Lake Tahoe Bear Released into Wild After Stealing Groceries

by Jennifer Shea

A black bear in Lake Tahoe went on a snacking spree at a grocery store, a gas station convenience store and a birthday party. Now wildlife officials have moved him to a large expanse of wild bear habitat.

The bear had become habituated in Kings Beach, the Lake Tahoe community officials removed him from, Fox News reported. He had grown used to people and had ceased to fear human contact.

Tahoe Bear Went Viral Online

Wildlife officials identified the bear from a tag in his left ear and through DNA analysis, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a blog post. After they trapped him, they realized the bear was more than 16 years old. They also found a poorly healed broken bone on his left hind leg.

They couldn’t send the bear to a wildlife facility or zoo due to his age and to lack of space. So they put a GPS tracking collar on him and released him into the wild. Now the CDFW is monitoring the bear’s location to make sure he stays in the area where they left him.

The bear had gone viral after cellphone and surveillance videos of him circulated online. The footage showed the bear roaming the aisles of a Safeway grocery store. He also lay down and ate candy in the aisles of a Chevron store, according to CBS 13.

Bear Advocates Object

Meanwhile, bear advocates objected to the move. The BEAR League’s Anne Bryant told CBS 13 that wildlife officials should not have removed the bear from its territory in Kings Beach. That’s despite the fact that the bear was so habituated he crashed a birthday party and ate the cake.

“I think this was not good for the bear,” Bryant said. “If he was taken to another bear’s habitat, that other bear is going to be territorial. This bear is compromised. It’s crippled. He’s crippled.”

Wildlife officials said they could not leave the bear in Kings Beach. However, they are continuing to evaluate the bear’s return to the wild.

“The bear was hazed multiple times with no resulting changes to its behavior or response to humans,” the CDFW said. “[We] determined a different strategy was required.”