bear with garbage bag

The black bears are in the Tahoe Keys looking for food and shelter this time of year. The situation this year is exacerbated over prior years because of the ongoing drought conditions that have reduced natural food supplies in the surrounding areas. This article is intended to provide some actions that we can take as a community to discourage bears from taking up residence in the Tahoe Keys and your property.


Bears are accustomed to human food and garbage. Our ways of handling garbage in the Tahoe Keys provides bears with easy access to food. As winter approaches the bears will become more aggressive in their search for food until most of them hibernate in late November or early December (depending on the winter, some bears will continue to forage for food). The actions we can take to minimize their access to food is:

  • Don’t feed the bears - feeding bears or other wildlife is illegal and increases the potential for property damage and ultimately the bear being put do death.
  • Don’t leave food for pets outside.
  • If you live in a single-family house store your garbage in your garage or similar structure until trash day and add Pinesol™ to the inside of every bag of garbage you put out for pickup. Put your trash out on Friday morning, not before.
  • Bear proof garbage cans are recommended and are available locally (Scotty’s has them).
  • If you use the Pavilion dumpsters, do not overfill the dumpster or leave garbage outside of the dumpster. Be sure that the dumpster lid is locked after closing the door.
  • If you live in a townhouse dispose of your trash in the dumpsters. Do not overfill the dumpster or leave garbage outside of the dumpster. Be sure that the dumpster lid is locked after closing the door. If there is a problem with the locks on your dumpster, please call the TKPOA office to have it corrected.
  • Don’t leave garbage or food in vehicles.
  • If you own a rental property, please instruct your rental agent and your renters that they need to follow the procedures outlined above.
  • If you see someone who is not following the procedures outlined above, then please mention it to them and/or call Security (530.545.0847) for follow-up action.


There are many homes in the Tahoe Keys that have exterior access to the crawl space under the building. Every year bears find poorly secured openings and make their den for the winter. During their stay the bears can cause damage in the area where they are living (e.g. piping, heater ducts, insulation). In some cases they can use openings in the floor to gain access to the interior of the house. After the cubs are born, it is a difficult decision to force them out of their den because of the likelihood that the cubs will not survive. The things we can do to minimize their access to shelter is:

  • Identify and fortify exterior openings into the crawlspace under the house. In this case the term “fortify” means building a new closure or modifying the existing closure to prevent the bear from breaking in. We have seen too many instances where flimsy closures (e.g. plywood or wood planks) or firewood stacked in front of the opening have been easily removed by a bear seeking shelter. Even after the bear has been “evicted” we have seen instances where they return and “break in” because the opening was not adequately secured.
  • If you are not a full time resident, inspect the opening upon your arrival to ensure it is still in tact and to avoid being surprised by having a bear living with you.
  • If you find that a bear has broken in, call Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care (530) 577-2273 for guidance on how to handle the situation.

Bear Country “Rules of Engagement”

If you encounter a bear in Your Neighborhood or Yard:

  • Do not run from him, this may stimulate his instinct to give chase. If you have small children who may run, pick them up and keep them calm.
  • Do not corner the bear - make sure there is a way for the bear to move on.
  • Let the bear know this is your territory and he doesn’t belong there.
  • Don’t be afraid or submissive.
  • Yell at him, bang pots & pans, throw rocks, etc.
  • Make him think you are a bigger bear than he.

Another article, from the Tahoe Daily Tribune: Lucky 14: How to live correctly in Lake Tahoe bear country

For further information see links below:

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