SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — On Wednesday evening, two retired childhood friends had a chance encounter with a black bear at the South Lake Tahoe city hall.
At around 6 p.m., both men were standing at the front doors and watched in disbelief as the bear casually strolled up the sidewalk slid by them, walking through the automatic doors and making its way for the kitchen.
Dave Radke has lived in South Lake Tahoe all his life and says he’s used to bears tearing up his garbage and trees, but this was something new.
“That day was very interesting,” Radke said. “Because I watched the bear come over and the bear walked over to those sliding doors walked into the corridor turned around and walked out.”
His good friend Robert Eplett was busy taking pictures from about six feet away.
“Yeah, it was pretty close I had a definite escape route,” Eplett said. “Safety first. If there were cubs involved I would have definitely been shooting through the window.”
The bear encounter was the topic of water-cooler conversations at City Hall Thursday morning.
“Everybody was kind of like, ‘Did you see the pictures? Did you see what happened? Did you see what happened yesterday?” said communications director Chris Fiore.
Earlier this month, a black bear trashed the laundry room of a home in Grass Valley.
Anne Bryant with the Bear League says there’s a reason we’re seeing more encounters.
“Some of these bears have been born here, they’ve been born under someone’s house, they’ve never known a life without people,” said Bryant.
She added that newcomers to bear country aren’t taking precautions like securing trash and creating barriers at homes. They also don’t make noise when they come face to face with a bear to scare them off.
Fiore understands the dangers but couldn’t help but joke while looking at the pictures.
“I assumed he was here for the council meeting that was on Tuesday that he didn’t show up for but he was just a little late,” Fiore said.
Robert Eplett, who took the photos, says the bear eventually found the kitchen and tore through a screen door surprising the cook.
“Besides changing the menu he’s changing other things ..so we heard a yahoo and a get out of here and then it took off across the parking lot. “ Eplett said.