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California wildlife agency trying to capture and kill 500-pound bear that damaged dozens of homes

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Posted at 1:51 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 15:51:57-05

California's wildlife agency is trying to capture and kill a 500-pound black bear that officials say is responsible for breaking into homes while looking for food in the scenic Lake Tahoe area, CBS Sacramento reports. An animal advocacy group opposes the agency's plans and wants the bear moved to a sanctuary.

A spokesperson with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife told CBS Sacramento the bear has damaged 38 homes in the South Lake Tahoe area. A black bear advocate told local news website South Tahoe Now the bear has broken down doors while people are inside homes.

"It's a dangerous situation," Toogee Sielsch told the site. "It breaks my heart."

The wildlife agency has put up large container-sized traps in the area and intend to put the bear down after it's captured.

"It is the point of no return for this bear, but the public needs to fix the things that brought us to this point, or it will continue," Jason Holley, a supervising wildlife biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Department, told South Tahoe Now.

The wildlife agency urges people to "bear-proof" homes and rental properties by making it difficult for bears to access garbage and keeping food out of sight among other things.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the Bear Education Aversion Response, or BEAR, League, told CBS Sacramento there's an alternative to killing the bear, which she called a "well-known local."

"We don't want anybody to get hurt," Bryant said. "Nobody wants that. We don't want the bear to die either."

Bryant and the wildlife agency agree the bear might die if it's just relocated because it doesn't know how to hunt, CBS Sacramento reports. Bryant said she'd like to see the bear taken to a wildlife sanctuary out of state.

Bears have caused problems in the area before. In September, as thousands of South Lake Tahoe residents returned to their homes after evacuating during the Caldor Fire, officials warned residents to be on the lookout for bears that had been wandering through evacuated neighborhoods, ransacking trash cans and homes, scavenging for food.