A man camping at Lake Tahoe learned a couple of valuable lessons last week after chasing a bear he caught stealing food from a cooler at night. Not only was the food not secured in a bear canister well away from the camp or held out of reach using a pulley system, the man also followed and threatened the animal as it left the campsite with its prize (which appeared to be a loaf of bread).
The man recorded the encounter on his phone on September 4. In the video, which you can watch below, the bear is caught pulling a package out of the cooler before running off. Things likely would have ended there, had the man not chased after it with a flashlight in hand.
The bear drops the bread behind a tree and rounds on the man, who can be heard giggling nervously, then breathing heavily as the bear stares him down. Rather than backing away to give the animal space, he stands still until it makes a bluff charge, scaring him back.
As the Sacramento Bee (opens in new tab) reports, he then whispers "You win" as the bear departs. It's not clear what he was expecting the bear to do, or why he decided to challenge a bear over a loaf of sliced bread.
Black bears are scavengers and opportunists, and it's possible that this particular animal may have become food conditioned after stealing from this campsite in the past. If a wild animal accesses high-calorie human food, it may come to see human settlements as an easy way to score a meal. This increases the risk of an encounter with a human, which could result in a person being hurt and an animal being euthanized.
Bears are now starting to prepare for hibernation by laying on fat stores to see them through the winter, so will be particularly persistent when it comes to food.
The US Forest Service (opens in new tab) advises people visiting Tahoe to store food and garbage out of sight, in closed vehicles, and not keep anything that smells interesting (including food and toiletries) in tents or sleeping areas.
"When camping in the back country hang food and garbage from a tree limb at least 10 feet from the ground and five feet from the tree trunk," the Forest Service says. "The tree should be at least 100 yards from your sleeping area."
Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).
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