Life without humans: Watch as a black bear family of four explores the Lake Tahoe homes left behind in Caldor Fire’s evacuations.
It’s an eerie feeling this clip generates. The footage is adorable, sure, as three yearling black bear cubs explore a homeowner’s porch with their mum. But it’s also a powerful glimpse into how quickly the rest of nature will reclaim what humanity has built if we’re gone. In the time since the Lake Tahoe basin’s evacuation orders, black bears have been seen roaming neighborhoods freely rummaging trash, taking food, exploring homes, and even picking apples from yard-grown trees.
Here, California homeowner Azadeh Nolan’s front door camera is operating as intended the afternoon of September 2. It begins recording as the curiosity of the black bear family comes into view.
Nolan, like tens of thousands of others, had to evacuate his South Lake Tahoe home when Caldor Fire was closing in. In the time since, it’s been left to the mercy of nature. And thankfully, Nolan’s doorbell camera has left a bit of fantastic wildlife footage behind instead of raging flames:
At first, the mother bear approaches solo to check out the area. Once it appears safe, her three cubs wander in – and the exploration begins. A noise in the distance manages to frighten two cubs off, but one brave wean sticks behind to examine the front door as his mother did.
“We noticed the camera detected motion on the north end of the cabin,” homeowner Nolan tells Storyful. “So we immediately tuned into the rest of our footage and found Mama bear at our front door.”
Lake Tahoe Family: ‘We Know Better than to Encourage’ Black Bears
As fun as the footage was to witness during such stressful times, Nolan adds that she and her family would try to scare the bears off by “screaming into the doorbell camera.”
It didn’t work. But is always worth the try! Because, as Nolan points out, black bears are beautiful animals – but are also large, powerful predators.
“We know better than to encourage them,” she says, smartly. “So locals know to scare them off and leave no food around.”
Those who live in bear country should know to be acutely aware of any food or strong-smelling substances that can attract bears to their homes. Black bears specifically will often enter neighborhoods in search of an easy meal left by humans.
As the species becomes more and more habituated to humans, however, the danger increases tenfold. Dozens of incidents and injuries occur each year with black bears in search of residential food. In 2021, a bizarre uptick in black bear maulings and fatalities have taken place, too.
So when wildlife experts warn those in bear country not to leave out accessible trash, food, birdseed, etc. – it is absolutely for the good of the bears – but also for the safety of those sharing their territory.
As for those seeking to come back home after the August evacuation, South Lake Tahoe Fire Chief Clive Savacool says in a statement that he’s “happy to see that people are slowly trickling in, just because the city does need time to get ready.”