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What To Do If You Run Into A Bear

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AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

A Black Bear walks along a downed tree as it searches for Kokanee salmon along Taylor Creek Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. As winter approaches bears come down from the mountains to feed on the salmon that is swimming up stream from Lake Tahoe to spawn.

Lake Tahoe is home to lots of large, predatory animals. Lion, tigers, bears… okay, well not tigers.

But there have been mountain lion and bear sightings in the area recently. And while sightings are normal, encounters are not. 

Ashley Sanchez of the Nevada Department of Wildlife has these tips. She says it is important to stand your ground, try to look as big as possible and slowly wave at them. Then use a firm, loud voice, and tell the animal to go away.

“Both of these animals are more afraid of you then you are of them,” she said.

While your first instinct might be to run away, Sanchez said it is important to resist that urge because it might trigger the animal's predatory nature and they'll want to chase you.

She said the same technique should be used if you encounter a coyote in Southern Nevada.

Sanchez said there might be more encounters between humans and bears right now because the bears are trying to get ready for winter.

"They’re actually going through a phase called hyperphagia, which starts right around now and lasts through November and they’re trying to build up as much fat as possible before going into hibernation,” she said.

That search for food can lead them to unsecured garbage, fruit trees with ripened fruit, or cars with food left inside.

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“That’s why we do ask people to be responsible in bear country and realize bears are out and about and they’re trying to build up calories,” she said.

As for mountain lions, Sanchez says it is extremely rare to see a mountain lion because they are nocturnal. But with more people in the Lake Tahoe area in late summer, encounters are more likely to happen.

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Ashley Sanchez, public information officer, Nevada Department of Wildlife

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