WATCH: Mama Bear With Her 3 Cubs Go for Swim With ‘Shocked’ Beachgoers in Lake Tahoe

by Amy Myers

Most of the time, when there’s a dangerous animal at the beach, it’s in the water. However, yesterday, Lake Tahoe beachgoers shared the shoreline with a mama bear and her three cubs. As the cubs played in the water, mom seemed indifferent to the people standing mere feet from her babies.

Of course, at a rare moment like this, beachgoers began recording the visit. In one video, the mama bear even joined the cubs in the water for a refreshing swim. According to beachgoer, Jen Walkins, the bears left and returned to the beach several times that day. When they first arrived, Walkins explained, the mama bear was “a little bit unfriendly/protective of the cubs with a golden retriever.” The black bear family then disappeared only to have the mother come back Yogi-style to steal a cooler full of lunch meat.

The mama bear returned again with her three cubs in tow, “frolicking in the sand” and playing in the water together.

According to KCRA, this isn’t the first black bear sighting at Lake Tahoe. And while that may be fun for visitors to see, it can also be quite dangerous.

California Officials Warn Against Black Bear Beach Sightings

As most Californians know, mama bears can easily become violent if provoked, especially when the cubs are around. That’s why Placer County and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife want to prevent human interaction from becoming a regular occurrence.

“They’re unpredictable. They’re dangerous….They can appear to be mild-mannered at times, but they can be very dangerous,” Placer County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Nelson Resendes said.

In fact, the CDFW even issued a press release in May, warning against interacting with any bears.

“The sows may be protective of the cubs and people need to give them space,” the CDFW stated in the release.

As well as potentially provoking the mama bear, the department also warns that encouraging interaction teaches the cubs dangerous habits.

“Don’t teach these young bears to be comfortable around people! If they have gotten too close, make noise and try to scare them away so they don’t feel comfortable and want to stay,” the CDFW stated. “While it’s fun to see bears and even take pictures and videos, you’re telling the bear that it’s alright to be close to you. Bears are smart and acquire learned behaviors based on their experiences.”

The CDFW encourages people to scare off bears from entering areas with people by making loud noises to frighten them.

“If they have a negative, scary encounter with a human, chances are they will try to avoid them in the future,” the CDFW said.

Another crucial part of the separation is maintaining any food or waste, especially for mama bears looking to provide for their cubs.

“Allowing bears to become comfortable around people can lead to unwanted activity including breaking into cars and houses or approaching people who are eating outdoors. It is illegal to feed bears both directly and indirectly by allowing them access to garbage or food.” 

In order to keep both species safe, it’s best that black bears and humans stay separate.