Bear Naked Truth

Goings-on with black bears in the Tahoe Basin and beyond

  • October 5, 2023

Three bear cubs that were captured with their mother in South Lake Tahoe this summer are progressing toward re-release into the wild.

The cubs’ mother, called 64F based on her DNA being the 64th unique female bear DNA entered into the CDFW wildlife forensic database, is known for breaking into at least 21 homes and causing property damage in the South Lake Tahoe area. The sow is also one of multiple bears identified by the public last year as “Hank the Tank.” She was safely immobilized in early August and taken to a wildlife facility near Springfield, Colorado, for permanent placement. The cubs, at least one of which accompanied her on break-ins, are being rehabilitated at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue near Petaluma.

The three male cubs, who were separated from 64F because she is not a candidate for rehabilitation while they may still be released to the wild, are now about 8-months-old and were recently given a clean bill of health by veterinarians.

“All three bears looked good,” said Dr. Brandon Munk, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) senior wildlife veterinarian. “We did a physical exam and baseline blood work for each. We gave them minor therapeutics to knock down internal and external parasite loads.”

One of the cubs has been recovering from injuries suffered while in the wild. The cub had a fractured hind foot and an associated wound from being struck by a vehicle. It also had an injury from an air rifle pellet.

“The fractures are healing, and the wound is almost healed. The cub is moving normally with no limp. All indications are that he’s doing fine,” said Munk.

The cubs’ rehabilitation protocol at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue includes reinforcement of foraging skills which they’ll need in the wild. For example, staff at the facility have placed logs, rocks, branches and other structures in the enclosure to provide the bears with climbing and balancing practice. Staff have also been burying and hiding food to allow the cubs to practice foraging.

“We all want to give these cubs the best chance at living a life in the wild,” said Munk.

If the cubs’ rehabilitation progresses as planned, they will be re-released into the wild in spring 2024.

Hank the Tank’s cubs raised in captivity at Sonoma County facility


Video credit:

Media contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications:

Categories: General, Human Wildlife Conflict, South Lake Tahoe
  • September 21, 2023
A bear cub outfitted with a GPS collar is released back into the Tulare County woods after time spent in wildlife rehabilitation.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has increased its use of GPS technology to better understand the outcomes of black bears released from wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

This year marks the first time that CDFW is tracking with GPS collars all bears released back into the wild after care from the four wildlife rehabilitation centers permitted to care for black bears in California.

It’s a way to track the bears’ behavior and movements and see how they are faring in the wild. CDFW human-wildlife conflict specialists might also use the GPS information to intercept a bear approaching a neighborhood or community and redirect it back to wild habitat.

Among the GPS-tracked, rehabbed bears released in 2023 were two orphaned cubs from Tulare County. CDFW cameras were on scene to capture the final moments of their care at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Campus and the return of one of the bears to its home in the woods of Tulare County. Learn more at the video featured below.

Categories: Human Wildlife Conflict, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Rehabilitation, Research
  • August 4, 2023

Bears Destined for Wildlife Sanctuary in Colorado and Rehabilitation Facility in Sonoma County

Wildlife biologists for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) this morning safely immobilized a large female conflict bear responsible for at least 21 DNA-confirmed home break-ins and extensive property damage in the South Lake Tahoe area since 2022. Her three cubs were also captured in the effort.

Pending a successful veterinary check, CDFW has secured permission from the State of Colorado to transport the female black bear, known as 64F, and place it with The Wild Animal Sanctuary near Springfield, Colorado, which has agreed to care for it in its expansive facilities. This large black bear is one of multiple bears identified by the public last year as “Hank the Tank” based on visual observations.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has the authority to approve only one such placement and is using that authorization for this bear. Relocation is not typically an option for conflict animals over concern that relocating an animal will relocate the conflict behavior to a different community. However, given the widespread interest in this bear, and the significant risk of a serious incident involving the bear, CDFW is employing an alternative solution to safeguard the bear family as well as the people in the South Lake Tahoe Community.

A large conflict black bear in the Lake Tahoe Basin captured by CDFW on Aug. 4, 2023.
CDFW file photo of conflict black bear 64F.

The sow's three young cubs, which have accompanied the bear on recent home break-ins, will potentially be relocated to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, a CDFW-permitted wildlife rehabilitation facility in Petaluma in hopes they can discontinue the negative behaviors they learned from the sow and can be returned to the wild. All three cubs were given a health assessment in the field before transfer and will receive additional examination at the facility. One of the cubs is believed to have suffered serious injuries from a vehicle strike earlier this month, though is still mobile. The injured cub will be given a thorough veterinary evaluation.

Bear 64F has been monitored closely by CDFW since 2022. In March of 2023, she was discovered denning under a residence in South Lake Tahoe along with her three male cubs of the year. Staff from CDFW and the Nevada Department of Wildlife immobilized the bear, collected DNA evidence, attached an ear tag and affixed a satellite tracking collar to the bear. Staff also implanted Passive Integrated Transponders, known as PIT tags, into the cubs for future identification. The PIT tags contain a microchip similar to what’s implanted into pet dogs and cats for identification.

Bear 64F shed the satellite tracking collar last May. The bear’s DNA, however, has been confirmed at 21 home invasions in the South Lake Tahoe area between February 2022 and May 2023 with the bear suspected in additional break-ins and property damage.

CDFW’s updated Black Bear Policy (PDF), released in February 2022, allows for the placement and relocation of conflict bears in limited circumstances when other management options have been exhausted and as an alternative to lethal actions.

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352

Categories: Human Wildlife Conflict, Rehabilitation, South Lake Tahoe
  • April 21, 2023

Are your bird feeders down, your BBQ clean and your bee boxes protected? If you live or maintain a residence in bear country, it’s time to prepare for spring bear activity. That means eliminating attractants that can bring bears to your mountain home and property. Even unlikely attractants such as plant fertilizer, gasoline and antifreeze can bring bears around. A bear’s nose is 100 times more powerful than a human’s and seven times stronger than that of a bloodhound. The “BearWise At Home Checklist” can help keep people, pets and property safe this spring – and bears wild.


Categories: Hibernation, Human Wildlife Conflict, South Lake Tahoe
  • March 20, 2023

In January, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) jointly announced their formal partnership with the national nonprofit BearWise, which was developed by leading black bear biologists to provide resources, information and consistent, science-based messaging on how to minimize black bear conflicts. CDFW subsequently reached out to BearWise to ask the organization to introduce itself to the Lake Tahoe community along with others around the state interested in black bear issues. What follows is a guest post by Linda Masterson, communications and marketing director for The National BearWise Program and author of the Living with Bears Handbook. Meet BearWise.

By Linda Masterson

If bears could read, we wouldn’t need BearWise®.

Bears excel at acting in what they perceive are their best interests: finding food, finding shelter, finding mates, raising their cubs, coexisting with each other. But they have no clue that avoiding people and people places would be in their long-term best interests.

But if bears could read, they would quickly learn that taking advantage of all those human-provided food sources carries risks that are far greater than any short-term reward. Bears are super-smart, resourceful and adaptable. They’d decide that no matter how tempting it was, staying far away from people was the wise thing to do.

Bears are exceptional mothers; they would immediately start teaching their cubs how to make a living off the natural landscape instead of how to scoot through pet doors into kitchens full of people food and bring the goodies back out to share. Or what night the unprotected trash goes out in which subdivision. Which dumpsters are easy to get into. Where to find a bird feeder full of seed or a yard full of chickens and bees. Which streets are lined with pretty trees that produce fruit that we don’t eat, but bears do. And which of the human neighbors put out a bear buffet of treats and then sit back and enjoy the bear show.Stash & Latch Your Trash BearWise sticker

Since almost all conflicts with bears are caused by people inadvertently or purposefully attracting them, in a generation or two (of bears, not people) conflicts would fade into memories of the bad old days. Bear biologists and managers could finally focus on studying bear biology and behavior, preserving the habitat bears need to live off the land and doing everything in their power to ensure bear populations are healthy and thriving today, tomorrow and always.

People could live in and visit bear country knowing they’re doing their part to keep people safe and bears wild. All while enjoying the occasional privilege of glimpsing a bear in the woods going about the business of being a wild bear.

Unfortunately, bears can’t read. And people are more complicated and less adaptable than bears. That’s why we need BearWise.

What makes BearWise different? The BearWise program was started several years ago by 15 states in the Southeast. Other states soon saw the benefit of being part of a program that guaranteed that no matter where people lived or traveled in bear country, they got the same consistent, science-based message about living with bears. Today, BearWise is managed by a national team of bear biologists and wildlife communications professionals and supported by 34 member state wildlife agencies, including California and Nevada and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. And people all over the country turn to BearWise for information they can trust and practical resources and tools that work in the real world.

The BearWise mission is to help people live responsibly with black bears. The BearWise philosophy is that the best way to do that is to help people better understand what makes bears tick. Show them how  everyone who lives in or travels to bear country can promote coexistence and prevent conflicts. And provide the resources and practical tools they need to help keep people safe and bears wild.

What does it mean to be BearWise?

It means getting up five minutes earlier so you can put your trash out in the morning instead of leaving it out the night before for a midnight bear buffet. Or investing in or creating a bear-resistant container that even the Tahoe Basin’s super-smart bears can’t defeat. And taking the time to make sure they’re closed, latched and cleaned out often.

It means taking down your bird feeders and adopting other ways to attract your feathered friends. Sorry, bird lovers, but there is no responsible way to feed birds when you live somewhere bears are active most of the year. But, good news, there are lots of ways to attract even more birds than you would with a feeder. Visit and check out the free "Attract Birds, Not Bears" bulletin.

It means following the BearWise Basics and keeping food and anything else with an odor (it doesn’t have to be a good odor) out of sight and smell of bears. Keeping vehicles clean and locked with the windows rolled up, or even better, parking them inside a locked garage.

When you’re BearWise, you know better than to store anything that might attract a bear on your back porch or deck. You lock your doors and close and lock your windows when you leave, and if there’s been a lot of bear activity in your neighborhood, you lock up when you’re at home.

If you’re being BearWise, your chickens and beehives are safely out of reach behind a well-maintained electric fence. You’ve got bear unwelcome mats outside the doors and windows of your summer cabin.

You feed your pets inside, or if you absolutely must feed outside, you pick up their bowls as soon as they’re done and clean up the area. And you resist the urge to feed strays or put out food for wildlife. Bears can’t read and they’re not polite; if there’s food available, they want some.

Welcome to Bear Country BearWise StickerWhat’s the harm in letting a hungry bear hang around your home or help itself to your leftovers?

The bear gets a meal it didn’t have to work for and you get to watch one of nature’s most amazing and charismatic animals … doing something totally unnatural that virtually ensures that eventually that bear will become way too comfortable around people and dependent on all the food sources people provide.

That leads to big problems for people: mangled trash containers, bashed-in birdfeeders, damaged fruit trees, raided gardens, coops and pens, demolished beehives, home and vehicle break-ins, and even injuries. It also leads to even bigger problems for bears. Bears that become dependent on human-provided foods may never fully develop a bear’s natural survival skills and often lead short, unhealthy, unhappy lives.

The bear biologists and bear managers who work for state wildlife agencies try every way they know how to encourage bears to leave people places alone. But bad habits that produce big food rewards for little effort are hard to break. Preventing conflicts is much more effective than trying to resolve them.

Recently the states of California and Nevada and a who’s who in the Lake Tahoe Basin sent out a joint interagency press release announcing their commitment to and strong support of the national BearWise program. The nine agencies represented include CDFW, NDOW, the USDA Forest Service, California and Nevada state parks, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The state wildlife agencies will work closely with the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and California and Nevada state parks to incorporate BearWise messaging as part of their united efforts through the Lake Tahoe Interagency Bear Team.

You can help by visiting and doing your part to keep people safe and bears wild in the Tahoe Basin … and wherever in bear country you might live or travel.

Categories: Human Wildlife Conflict

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