Bear Naked Truth

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

  • January 5, 2024
A Lake Tahoe Basin black bear holds a freshly caught kokanee salmon in its mouth.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has been alerted to flyers posted recently in the Lake Tahoe Basin encouraging people to feed bears and allow them to access garbage in order “to survive.” This is false and extremely harmful misinformation that is detrimental for bears.

Bears are perfectly capable of surviving on their own and far better off without any human handouts. By intentionally feeding bears, people are quickly conditioning those bears to associate humans and homes as food sources. Bears baited by left-out food and garbage are conditioned to cross the boundary of safe behavior by approaching people, cars, houses, etc., to seek out that food reward. This changes a bear’s natural behaviors and greatly increases the potential for conflict.

It’s not possible for communities in bear country to coexist with bears unless people respect boundaries with bears and other wildlife. This includes not feeding wildlife, keeping garbage and other attractants away from bears and wildlife and educating oneself on all the best practices when living in or visiting bear country.

Living in bear country is a great privilege that comes with responsibilities. So please take the time to check out the online resources below to inform yourself and help others be part of the solution.

Thank you for your help in keeping Tahoe bears wild.

Online Black Bear Resources:

Photo courtesy of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.


Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858

Categories: Human Wildlife Conflict, South Lake Tahoe
  • 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
  • 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
  • November 22, 2022
Image of ill hairless black bear at zoo

Facing a host of challenging medical ailments and a less-than-hopeful prognosis, an approximately 10-month-old male black bear from South Lake Tahoe was humanely euthanized on Monday at the Oakland Zoo where he was receiving treatment. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) veterinary team remained in close contact with the Oakland Zoo’s veterinary team, and after considering treatments and likely outcomes agreed that the cub was unlikely to have a good quality of life even if treatments were successful.

“This poor cub had a whole host of medical issues,” said CDFW Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Brandon Munk. “He was never going to be a normal bear again and would have required lifelong medical care in captivity. We didn’t want a poor quality of life for the bear and undue strain on any zoo or sanctuary caring for him.”

The severely underweight bear was brought to CDFW earlier this month after he was found in a public area of South Lake Tahoe. The bear was suffering from significant pneumonia, a broken foot with an infection that was likely spreading to surrounding bones, a dislocated wrist, severe hair loss and skin ulceration caused by fungal and bacterial infections, gastrointestinal parasites, an ear infection and an umbilical hernia.

CDFW received the bear on Nov. 10, did an assessment and on Nov. 11 transferred the bear to Oakland Zoo’s world-class veterinary medical facility. The zoo’s veterinarians were successful in relieving the bear’s pain and discomfort and stabilizing his condition. However, the bear’s condition worsened despite treatment. If veterinarians would have continued treatment, the bear would have required round-the-clock sedation, as well as potentially placing him on a ventilator.

“The fact that he had worsened, despite treatment, and would have required the highest level of invasive care, were the biggest deciding factors for euthanasia,” said Oakland Zoo Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Sadler. “The potential for this bear to have a good life under human care, even with significant veterinary intervention, was very low. We didn’t want to see him undergo months of stress and painful treatment only to be left with conditions that would cause discomfort throughout his life.”


Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications:

Categories: Rehabilitation, South Lake Tahoe

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