If you’re anything like us, seeing a bear is one of the main goals of your day.
And not because we like knowing that the Lake Tahoe bears enjoy trash for dinner or because we think humans and black bears are a friendly mix. But simply because they’re impossibly cool and the cubs are cute and we like to imagine them befriending us like in a scene from the Jungle Book.
We want Lake Tahoe’s wildlife to stay wild as much as you do, but the truth of the matter is that we have to coexist. Sometimes we’re more successful at that than others, as these Lake Tahoe bear videos prove.
That doesn’t mean we can’t do better—and it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the internet’s best captured bear moments. In an ode to both: keep reading.
Wait a minute. You don’t get to watch the bear videos without a little wildlife education first. So, let’s talk about Lake Tahoe’s bear population.
Facts About Lake Tahoe’s Bears
- Lake Tahoe is home to American Black Bears and black bears only. No grizzlies, no polar bears. Black bears.
- They are omnivores, but their diet is 85% plant based.
- They typically hibernate through the winter, although human food sources (as in, garbage cans not humans) have made it easier for bears to stay awake longer.
- Cubs stay with their mothers for at least one year.
- Black bears are excellent climbers and have an amazing sense of smell.
Living With Black Bears
It takes a little extra thought, but living around wildlife actually isn’t too hard. It’s basically like living with some super buff raccoons.
Bears are smart and curious, but mostly just hungry. If it wasn’t for their undying love for human food, we probably wouldn’t see them much at all. But they love food and we’re not always great about being bear aware. Until now!
(Check out tahoebears.org for lots of great bear info.)
- Lock your car doors & always keep your vehicle clear of food. We swear to you, they will smell it. They will smell that bag of Doritos you left under the car seat. Actually, anything scented can attract them—including sunblock or a floral lotion. And if you left your car doors unlocked or your window cracked open, they will get into your car and demolish it in pursuit of whatever it is they smell.
- Store garbage in the right place, like a bear box or locked garbage can. Once, I accidentally left an empty bag of dog food outside our door. It was ripped to shreds in the morning. Bears love your garbage. And sadly, it’s a dangerous game for them. Not only do bears get into trouble when they try to mingle with people, but trash is an unhealthy habit. For your safety and theirs, avoid giving them any access to garbage.
- Keep your picnic and camp site clean. The videos of a bear family huddled around a picnic, pulling sandwiches out a cooler may be fun to see, but it’s really not cool. Wildlife should be wild, and only bad things happen when bears try to mix with humans. So again, don’t encourage dangerous behavior by encouraging bears to come around. Put everything away when you’re not present!
- Know what to do if you encounter a bear. Stay calm. Don’t run. Back away slowly. Never approach a bear and if you run into one, leave the area quickly and avoid getting in their space as best as you can. If it does attack, fight back. Black bear attacks are very rare but not impossible, especially in a mama bear with cubs situation.
Bear Moments In Lake Tahoe Caught On Film
Ok, you’re approved. Now join us in enjoying some cute and/or crazy bear moments featuring Lake Tahoe’s OG locals.
Bear Family Cools Off In The Lake
Besides the people creeping in a little too close, this video is the best. Lake Tahoe gets hot in the summer, and this mother bear and her three cubs know the best beach to chill at. The cubs playing in the water. Stop it.
Bear Opens Car Door And Grabs Cooler
Yeah, we told you. Lock the car doors and don’t keep food inside because bears these days are dexterous. Honestly, this one has a pretty delicate touch.
Bear Enters Convenience Store For A Snack
Prime example of when mixing bears and humans gets messy. Plus, this guy definitely had a raging stomachache afterwards, I mean, that was a lot of candy.
Bear Gets Stuck In Tahoe City Dumpster
An infamous visitor in the Lake Tahoe basin, ‘T-Shirt’ the bear is well, massive, first and foremost. Here, you see a classic encounter with the big boy after he gets stuck inside a trash can. You’ve got to admit, he’s pretty agreeable for a bear trapped into a dumpster.
Bear Breaks Into House
Hi, remember when we said to lock your car doors and windows? That also applies to your house to because…. bears really love food, guys. But extra points here for being so nimble.
Bear Steals Bag From Beachgoers
When they get comfortable around humans, anything goes. Like we said, never leave your food unattended. Especially if you’re hanging next to a drainage pipe apparently.
Of course, none of these videos show what we really want—which is bears in the forest, enjoying the wild! Close encounters may be interesting to watch, but we want better for our furry friends. Lock your doors and windows, kids.