Keep Me Wild Educating Public About Wildlife

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The California Department of Fish and Game wants you to know that feeding wildlife is not good for the animals. In fact, it can be deadly for them.

So, the department launched a $100,000 campaign called "Keep me Wild" to make locals and visitors of Lake Tahoe aware that our actions can make wildlife, like bears, dangerous.

When it comes to bears, some people can be feeding them and not even be aware of it.

According to Fish and Game, the biggest problem is that the bears get into trash and they start liking it and become addicted. That's when they become a problem to the public and are often destroyed.

This is what happens when bears become addicted to human food.
According to wildlife biologists with the California Department of Fish and Game they'll do whatever it takes to get a good meal.

But it's not their fault.

The bears aren't the problem.. really the people are the problem.

Biologists say people who leave their garbage cans out are some of the worst culprits. "They just aren't aware, I don't think they intend to harm the wildlife, but that's in fact what they're doing by being irresponsible with their garbage," says Banky Curtis of the Ca. Department of Fish and Game.

As part of the "Keep me Wild" campaign, California State Parks are installing bear lockers in campgrounds and visitors can be cited for not using them.

And in some areas around the lake, like at Lake Village, homeowners are taking precautions to make sure bears aren't attracted to their neighborhood.

Near every home there's a bear-proof receptical. A bear would need an opposable thumb to lift this lid. "They have a lot of might, they have a good brain, but without an opposable thumb, they sometimes can't open these things," says Doug Updike of Ca. Department of Fish and Game.

But Cheryl Millham with Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care says some people who live in the Tahoe area still aren't getting the message that bears who become a problem to humans are destroyed.

At a number of homes and apartment complexes around South Lake Tahoe the dumpsters are left completely open - giving the bears easy access.

"Restaurants don't like to take the time to open up a can, so they leave the bear-proof garbage can open.. so the bears go and have dinner," Milham says.

It also doesn't help to put trash next to a bear-proof dumpster. "Bears are smart, but we are smarter. And if we just learn to take care of our problems, cause we're causing the problems.. they're just taking advantage of it," says Milham.

The "Keep me Wild" Campaign applies to different wild animals in different parts of California. For example, some areas are focusing on coyotes or mountain lions - but bears are the biggest problem in the Tahoe area.

What should people do if they don't have a bear-proof receptical at their home?

They can always buy a permenant fixture for the outside of their homes or they can leave their garbage out the morning that it will be picked up.

For more tips and information about the "Keep me Wild" Campaign, you can go to the "links" area on this Web site.