Experts weigh in on wildfire effects on Tahoe-area bears, other animals

Peninsula Premier Admin

Denise Upton knows a thing or two about wildlife escaping fires – especially bears. The animal care director for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care helped nurse Tamarack, a bear cub that was burned in the Tamarack Fire back in July.”Right now, the bears are going through what they call hyperphagia and they have to consume thousands of calories before they hibernate,” Upton said. “They were struggling before the fire because of the drought and it just compounds everything immensely for them.”Upton said it’s not out of the ordinary to see them in town or near homes and businesses searching for food when everyone in the area has been evacuated.”They probably will be moving into new areas with new habitat and it might be new areas that typically don’t see bears,” Upton said. Tahoe Area Bear expert Toogee Sielsch has been tracking and studying bears in the Tahoe area for decades and maintains a network of trail cams. He said he sees them moving about the region all the time.”You’d be surprised how much many of those bears especially around the Tahoe basin move through those environments regularly,” Sielsch said.He said he’s not surprised to see postings and shared clips on social media of bears and other wildlife in the area moving around freely following the Caldor Fire’s spread.”Right now, there’s ample natural food sources for the black bear population that are moving around the basin,” Sielsch said.Sielsch said bears aren’t the only animals he’s seeing moving about.His cameras also captured porcupines, deer and bobcats.California Fish and Wildlife biologist Jason Holley said the wild animals are much more resilient than people may think, and sometimes these wildfires create opportunities for some of them to feed.”Some predators and even some opportunistic omnivores like bears succeed greatly at the edge of the fire because they’re getting more food opportunities from the other animals trying to escape,” Holley said.Holley recommends that anyone who comes across a wild animal after a wildfire avoids approaching them, petting them, or feeding them.”They don’t need our food. They don’t need our water,” Holley said. “This part of California is full of bears, mountain lions, deer, raccoons, all sorts of diverse wildlife, and they are fire adaptive and they can make it on their own.”Holley said if you think an animal is hurt, do not try to help the animal yourself. Give the agency a call, so they can send an expert out to check on the animal.

Denise Upton knows a thing or two about wildlife escaping fires – especially bears. The animal care director for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care helped nurse Tamarack, a bear cub that was burned in the Tamarack Fire back in July.

“Right now, the bears are going through what they call hyperphagia and they have to consume thousands of calories before they hibernate,” Upton said. “They were struggling before the [Caldor] fire because of the drought and it just compounds everything immensely for them.”

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Upton said it’s not out of the ordinary to see them in town or near homes and businesses searching for food when everyone in the area has been evacuated.

“They probably will be moving into new areas with new habitat and it might be new areas that typically don’t see bears,” Upton said.

Tahoe Area Bear expert Toogee Sielsch has been tracking and studying bears in the Tahoe area for decades and maintains a network of trail cams. He said he sees them moving about the region all the time.

“You’d be surprised how much many of those bears especially around the Tahoe basin move through those environments regularly,” Sielsch said.

He said he’s not surprised to see postings and shared clips on social media of bears and other wildlife in the area moving around freely following the Caldor Fire’s spread.

“Right now, there’s ample natural food sources for the black bear population that are moving around the basin,” Sielsch said.

Sielsch said bears aren’t the only animals he’s seeing moving about.

His cameras also captured porcupines, deer and bobcats.

California Fish and Wildlife biologist Jason Holley said the wild animals are much more resilient than people may think, and sometimes these wildfires create opportunities for some of them to feed.

“Some predators and even some opportunistic omnivores like bears succeed greatly at the edge of the fire because they’re getting more food opportunities from the other animals trying to escape,” Holley said.

Holley recommends that anyone who comes across a wild animal after a wildfire avoids approaching them, petting them, or feeding them.

“They don’t need our food. They don’t need our water,” Holley said. “This part of California is full of bears, mountain lions, deer, raccoons, all sorts of diverse wildlife, and they are fire adaptive and they can make it on their own.”

Holley said if you think an animal is hurt, do not try to help the animal yourself. Give the agency a call, so they can send an expert out to check on the animal.

Contributed by local news sources

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