Drivers are killing Tahoe’s bears

A couple participates in the annual Lederhosen 5K with Big Blue Adventures. This year’s race is on Sept. 23 starting and finishing at Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City, with awards for best costume and entry to the Tahoe City Oktoberfest also on Sept. 23. Details in the Tahoe Music, Events & Festivals fall guide in this edition. | Photography courtesy

Drivers are killing Tahoe’s bears
It’s heartbreaking to watch, but it’s a necessary reminder to every driver – locals and visitors alike – in the Tahoe Sierra. Bears are being killed by drivers not paying attention, driving too fast or having a lack of patience for cubs that often slowly (sometimes very slowly) follow mother bears across the road. It’s a tragedy, and we’re all responsible.

The BEAR League, who has been an advocate for educating humans about bears and how to prevent them from breaking into our homes and cars and for advocating for bear safety, reports that the summer of 2023 has been one of the deadliest for bears and cubs who have been crippled, maimed, killed or had to be euthanized due to their injuries from being struck by cars. The BEAR League reports that at least 20 bears have been killed this year.

This is unacceptable and heartbreaking. The volunteer-run group posted a heart-wrenching video to social media of one juvenile who was hit by a car and suffered severe head trauma and later had to be euthanized. They have also posted videos of cubs with broken limbs, who likely will not survive from their injuries. These videos are hard to watch, but perhaps this is the only way to get people to slow down.

We all must take responsibility for this tragic situation. If you have ever sped in Tahoe, blindly passed a slowing car (especially the locals passing vehicles in the center turn lanes rushing to work at 7 a.m. each morning), have not paid attention to the road and instead paid too much attention to your phone or looking at the sights, or if you’ve seen a bear cross the road and hurriedly sped away without waiting to see if one, two or three cubs would follow, then you’ve endangered our bears. Frankly, you’re also endangering pedestrians and cyclists by taking any of these actions.

Slow down! Be aware of pedestrians and cyclists on the road, and especially for the bears (and the Canada goose) who cross our highways to reach food and water. To learn more about Tahoe’s bears, visit