Some California residents last week finally figured out the source of strange rumbling and snoring noises in their home — a mother bear and her four cubs had been hibernating beneath the South Lake Tahoe house.
The BEAR League, a Lake Tahoe bear rescue organization, said this particular mother black bear had three cubs of her own — and adopted one more — and thus "had four active, chubby little bears following her around" at the end of 2021 when the family began to search for a hibernation den.
"When it came time to go to sleep for the winter she found a house with an unsecured crawl space opening and ushered all the kids inside and told them to Be Quiet and Go to Sleep," the BEAR League wrote in a Facebook post on April 19 announcing the eviction of the bear family earlier that day.
"It was a home where people lived and they thought they heard some odd rumbling, snoring-like noises but ignored it because it simply didn’t make sense...and the neighbors said they were imagining it because they didn’t hear anything."
"We un-invited Mama Bear, not yet aware there were four more bears under the house," BEAR wrote. "It was quite the scene to then watch the four yearling cubs emerge from the opening and join together on the other side of the fence to venture forth into 2022."
They "suddenly ran out and over the fence to where Mama was calling to them all while we just stood there in disbelief... and we didn’t get the camera turned on before they all disappeared. Dang it," wrote BEAR in a comment on Facebook.
After the story made national headlines, the bear group added: "Hopefully this will help encourage people to secure their crawl space openings."
The BEAR League says it is common for black bears, which have a healthy population level in the Lake Tahoe area, to seek unsecured crawl spaces for winter hibernation.
Bear encounters in the vacation communities along the shores of the alpine lake are common.
Last summer a mother and three cubs dashed across a beach where humans and at least two geese frolicked in waves.
An extremely large bear nicknamed "Hank the Tank" was sought by California authorities, who in February accused him of becoming "extremely food-habituated" and of using "its immense size and strength to break in and through front doors and garage doors."
Later, DNA evidence exonerated Hank the Tank from a death sentence, NBC News reported, after at least two other bears were genetically implicated in the series of break-ins.
In 2020 a bear entered a Lake Tahoe-area Safeway and browsed the produce section.