September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Dry Winter Weather Brings out Bears and Bugs

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You expect bears to be out and about around Lake Tahoe in the spring, summer and autumn.  But an unseasonably dry and mild start to 2013 seems to be tricking some bears out of hibernation in the winter.

According to the Ann Bryant of the Bear League, numerous bears have been spotted around the lake in recent weeks.  At this time of year, their natural food supply in the wild isn’t available.  So they are getting into garbage.  Bryant urges people to maintain the same vigilance they practice in the summer, keeping garbage containers locked up.

In the Valley, some mosquitoes have also been spotted ahead of schedule.

“Oh that’s totally possible,” said Ying Fang, supervisor in the Center for Vectorborne Diseases at UC Davis.  “Mosquito hatch depends on the temperature.”

But Fang says large numbers of mosquitoes are not expected until May, when the weather gets much warmer.  It is too early to tell if many mosquitoes will carry West Nile virus this year in California.  But if the mosquito samples brought into the UC Davis lab from counties up and down the state last year are any indication, there is some cause for concern.

“August, September, almost ten-to-fifteen percent of the samples they submitted to us were positive,” explained Fang.  “Very high last year.”

So while the weather continues to defy the calendar, we are all advised to try and outsmart nature.  Even though large numbers of mosquitoes are not expected until spring, it is a good idea now to minimize standing water in yards, and keep bug repellant handy when hiking in the wild.  And anyone spending time in the Sierra is advised to stash food and trash where bears cannot get to it.

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