The Tahoe basin has been home to Black Bears since before calendars, so their scents and territories are well established. Jasper, unlike many younger bears, was NOT a ‘Trash Bear’. She ate from the wild, was never in trouble and was training her cubs to do the same. Third Creek is the only fully restored Creek, which is also a wildlife corridor (where bears and other wildlife feed and use to navigate from mountains to lake) and home to Tahoe’s native Lahontan Trout, who have been recently re-introduced, as the creek has been their spawning ground for millions of years.
Incline Village was established as a semi-gated community in the 1970’s. So bears moving through Incline Village are not a problem.
People (moving and traveling to Tahoe not aware of these native wildlife residents) – ARE THE PROBLEM!
The Washoe County Sheriff arrived at the Jasper scene and assured the panicked resident the bullets were rubber and would only scare the bear into moving away from her yard. Unfortunately, the bullets were lethal, and she killed the mama bear in front of her traumatized cubs.
The trauma resulting in the community was significant and a Memorial Service was held for Jasper. (Her cubs re-located by NDOW may not have survived).
Dozens of mourners showed up to pay respects at the memorial for this gentle giant of a mother bear who was never an urban problem. It was an extremely painful day.
David Colley, a local artist, in appreciation for the work done by Ann Bryant of the Tahoe Bear League and to try an console the anguish she felt from this tragedy, he designed and produced a beautiful metal cut out of Jasper and her cub that said " Wildlife Habitat Respect and Protect" backed by a metal cutout of Lake Tahoe.
Ann appreciated the sign and others were so impressed they asked about purchasing them. This launched what has become a 6-year "Bear Awareness Campaign" to honor Jasper and her cubs, so her life would not be in vain. In partnership with the Bear League, David has fabricated dozens of beautiful metal Wildlife Habitat signs using equipment at the Truckee Roundhouse (a community makerspace) and donates a % of funds received from selling signs to the makerspace. They add beauty to Bear Boxes, garages, or wherever people hang them, while creating awareness that Bears Live here too.
Because the signs were so well received, Ann asked for a small bear sticker using the same art, but when David suggested a magnet would be easier to attach to any metal bear box, car, refrigerator and move in order to expand awareness - the art found its medium and Blue Bee Printing delivered. The Bear League secured funding to print 43,000 bear magnets and David built display boxes for them to sit on business counters. They are free to the public and have gone around the world bringing the story of Tahoe bears with them. The message is getting out and so are the magnets – only now we are out of magnets and funds to print more, but businesses keep calling because demand has grown.