TAHOE (CBS13) – As hibernation season comes to a close, agencies in the Tahoe region warn neighbors they will be seeing black bears more often.

“A lot of bears in the Tahoe area had free reign; it was party time,” said Peter Tira, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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The Caldor fire tore through Tahoe, forcing evacuations and emptying the tourist town for weeks.

The bears took advantage, Tira said.

“They had their way into cars and houses and cabins and campgrounds,” said Tira.

The animals filled up on human food before hibernation, but spring is here and Tahoe’s bear problem is about to get worse.

“These are the same bears now that are emerging from their dens and looking to get back into those homes,” said Tira, who calls it learned behavior

This spring, those homes are no longer empty.

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“It will be a different world for some of those bears,” said Tira.

Marla Bonner and her husband, Will, frequent Lake Tahoe.

“People will be losing anything from doors, maybe a refrigerator if it recognizes it up to pets and livestock it’s food,” said Will.

So, how do you protect yourself and the bears?

“The best survival skill a bear can have is fear of people. Instead of trying to take a picture or selfie you can haze it away. Clap your hands make loud noise get a water hose out. You’re not harming the bear just encouraging them to remain out in the wild,” said Tira, who explains the problem could get worse if the bears have had cubs.

They could teach their young to spend time in those areas as well, which could lead to additional problems.

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