‘Mom… there is a bear in our house’: Teens recall late-night visit at California vacation home
Marlei Martinez, KCRA
TRUCKEE, California (KCRA) — Two teenage boys from San Francisco said they learned an important lesson after finding a bear inside their vacation home in Truckee.
Hayes Sherman, 15, and Bobby Harden, 15, were watching TV just past midnight Saturday when they heard loud rummaging coming from the kitchen.
“I said, ‘My mom would not be aggressively opening up Tupperware at 12:30 in the morning,’” Hayes said.
Turns out, it was a 250-pound black bear raiding the refrigerator for taco meat and ice cream down the hall.
“It looked us both in the eyes and it started coming towards us,” Hayes recalled. “And that was one of the scariest moments, coming face to face with the bear.”
As the bear walked towards the TV room from the kitchen, Bobby barricaded the door.
“This door did not lock at all,” Bobby said. “So the bear was shaking the door and we had to hold it shut.”
As Bobby held onto the sliding wooden door, Hayes worked on contacting law enforcement. With his phone in another room, the 15-year-old called the Placer County Sheriff’s Office using his smartwatch. He also warned his mother who was upstairs at the time.
“I said, ‘Mom, do not come downstairs. There is a bear in our house,’” he said.
Minutes later, Deputy Allyson Prero arrived with a flashlight and shotgun in hand.
“As soon as I pulled up into the driveway, I could see it through the front glass of the house that the bear was indeed still inside,” Prero said.
Prero said the garage door was open and she could tell the bear made its way inside using the unlocked door through the garage.
“I think people underestimate how smart bears are,” she said. “Bears absolutely can open doors — door to residences, car doors.”
Prero got a layout of the home from Hayes’ mother, who yelled down through a second-floor window. She told Prero that the front door may be unlocked, so the deputy kicked in the front door. The bear then made its way out and lingered in the driveway, Prero said.
“So, I racked my shotgun, which I’d already loaded with a bear round, and I just hit him with a bear round on the back side and he shooed — took off out the neighborhood,” she said.
When the boys saw Prero’s flashlight, they knew they were safe.
“We’re so grateful for her. She saved our lives,” Hayes said.
According to the BEAR League, encounters like these are not rare in Tahoe. Executive Director Ann Bryant said bears enter up to 15 homes every day during the summer, usually because of unlocked doors and windows.
While these incidents are very common, Bryant said physical contact is very rare. She added these situations are more common now than ever before because bears have adjusted to human interaction.
It’s a lesson the boys learned the hard way.
“We both left the garage door open, so that’s a lesson,” Hayes said. “The main lessons are to lock your car doors and make sure every door and garage door is closed and locked.”
Hayes’ family owns the vacation home. He said the family is now going to bear-proof it by putting down a bear mat that shocks the animal and, of course, by locking the windows and doors.