Kings Beach Bear Back in the Wild
Surely you remember the Kings Beach bear? You might recall him better as the "Safeway bear" or the "Chevron bear" or perhaps even the "birthday cake bear."
Throughout late August and early September, a black bear was caught on camera multiple times entering local businesses (Video) in the Kings Beach community on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore to take food. These videos made national news as the bear displayed no fear of people and disregarded attempts to shoo it out of the stores. Additionally, the bear was photographed crashing a family gathering and eating a birthday cake.
The bear was identified by the partial, unreadable tag in its left ear affixed many years ago along with DNA analysis. DNA collected from the scenes of the multiple business break-ins along with the same physical description indicated the same bear was responsible for each event.
The recent behavior of the bear classified it as a “habituated bear” under the CDFW’s bear policy. Habituated bears show no overt reactions to people as a result of repeated exposure with no negative consequences. Because the bear was hazed multiple times with no resulting changes to its behavior or response to humans, CDFW determined a different strategy was required.
CDFW conducted a trapping effort in early September and quickly captured a bear matching the physical description from these numerous conflicts. The bear was taken to CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Lab near Sacramento for a thorough health and wellness evaluation by CDFW veterinarians. DNA samples also were taken to CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Lab and confirmed that the bear’s DNA matched that gathered at the Kings Beach incidents.
The health and wellness evaluation revealed an old – more than 16 years old – male bear with a poorly healed injury on its left hind foot. Due to the advanced age of the bear and lack of available space, placement in a permanent wildlife facility or zoo was not an option. To keep tabs on the bear and help prevent any future conflicts, CDFW affixed a GPS tracking collar on the bear and released it in a large expanse of wild, suitable bear habitat, where the bear remains today. CDFW continues to monitor the bear’s whereabouts to evaluate his return to the wild.
VIDEO: The Kings Beach bear is released into wild habitat while being hazed by bean bags.