LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A Lake Tahoe homeowner had quite a spring surprise when she discovered five bears had hibernated under her house for the winter.
At one point during the winter, the homeowner and other residents who live in the house thought they heard an odd low rumbling that sounded a lot like snoring. But they never investigated.
“The neighbors said they were imagining it because they didn’t hear anything,” wrote the BEAR League, a non-profit organization in the Lake Tahoe area that aims to keep “bears safe and wild in their natural habitat.”
Earlier this week, a bear woke up from her long slumber and started making unmistakable bear noises in a crawl space under the house.
The startled homeowner called the BEAR League to evict the big furry animal.
“The bear family awoke and prepared to exit and the people in the house could no longer deny there was probably a bear under the house. We arrived immediately. We un-invited Mama Bear, not yet aware there were four more bears under the house,” the BEAR League wrote.
Not long after mama bear emerged from under the house, four 1-year-old cubs followed her out.
“It was quite the scene to then watch the four yearling cubs emerge from the opening and join together on the other side of the fence to venture forth into 2022,” the BEAR League wrote.
Bear experts said the mother must have ushered her family into an unsecured crawl space opening because she thought it would be a cozy, safe winter den for her big family. The black bear family was likely under the house for about four months, the BEAR League estimates.
According to the BEAR Leauge, the same bear had three active, chubby cubs following her around last year. When the cubs were a few months old, their mother found and adopted an orphan cub who was the same age as her own cubs.
The incident happened in the wake of state wildlife officials alerting Lake Tahoe residents to expect “increased bear activity” as the animals wake up from hibernating.
Some of the bears enjoyed a people-free Lake Tahoe last fall because residents were evacuated from the 2021 Caldor Fire. The Caldor Fire’s evacuation period will have “rippling and lasting effects” on bear behavior for seasons to come, wildlife officials said.