A California family recently discovered a pack of bears hibernating under their house after they heard odd sounds coming from outdoors. The South Lake Tahoe residents claimed to have heard “rumbling, snoring-like sounds” for weeks, but tried to ignore them, not knowing that five bears slept just feet away.
According to the Daily Mail, the family thought it was just “hearing things” because nobody could make sense of the noises or find their source. After a little exploration, the family discovered a mother bear and four cubs hibernating under the house. To make the story even more incredible, one of the cubs did not biologically belong to the mother; which means she “adopted” it somehow — a very occurrence in the wild.
A local wildlife group called the BEAR League came out to inspect the home once the family realized the seriousness of the situation.
“They had just thought it was one very noisy bear,” said BEAR League Executive Director Ann Bryant.
And if you’ve ever wondered how wildlife officials coax bears into different behavior without drugs, here’s how the BEAR League solved the problem. To get the protective mama bear from under the house, the League had to scare her and convince her that her hibernation spot was dangerous. Only then would she gather her cubs on her own accord and make for the wild.
Bryant said that this process never physically hurts the bears but it does “hurt their feelings” sometimes.
Conservationists find bears hibernating under houses frequently in some parts of the country
Once the bears vacated the crawl space, the BEAR League secured a small electric barrier to deter the animals from returning. Apparently, in Tahoe, bear intrusion is a common problem this time of year.
“Each winter, about 100 to 150 of our bears attempt to hibernate under homes here at Tahoe,” Bryant said. “The BEAR League is kept very busy moving bears out of these crawl spaces, often several bears each day.”
Bryant also said the best way to keep bears away is to check all entry points into the home.
“People really need to make sure their crawl space openings are closed and secured before bears go inside. Especially in the fall, when they are looking for hibernation dens,” she also said.
According to its website, the BEAR League began in 1998 after a local Tahoe bear died in a trap set by the California Department of Fish and Game. Local animal enthusiasts decided that the death should have been preventable, if not for fear and misunderstanding.
Now more than 20 years later, the League tries to help Tahoe citizens co-mingle with bears without needing violence.
“We work continuously to keep bears safe, alive and happy. (Yes, bears express emotions like happiness and unfortunately, fear and sadness as well),” the BEAR League website reads. “Please help us positively affect the lives of as many of our dear furry friends as we possibly can. Together, we can share compassion with all of Mother Earth’s Children.”