A black bear known to local authorities as "T-Shirt" got himself trapped in a dumpster in the North Lake Tahoe town of King's Beach early Monday morning.
The Placer County Sheriff's Office tweeted out video of the bear encounter, noting that Deputies Bertoni and Staley were the heroes of the day. You can watch as they coax the bear out of the deep dumpster — the issue being it had two hinged lids with cut-outs to prevent large animals from getting in, and T-Shirt got in, but he couldn't get out without some assistance.
Eventually, one deputy lifts one side of the dumpster cover, and the bear figures out that he if drops back down, he'll be able to get out through a wider opening.
Yesterday morning, a #bear that goes by the name “T-Shirt” got himself stuck in a dumpster in Kings Beach. Luckily for T-Shirt, Deputies Bertoni and Staley were able to help him get out of his predicament. 🐻 #LawEnforcement #dumpsterdiving #hungry pic.twitter.com/JeCq7quLi9— Placer Sheriff (@PlacerSheriff) November 5, 2019
Black bears — whose coloring ranges from tan to black, usually with brown muzzles — are a fairly common sight around the Lake Tahoe basin, and often these bears don't bother hibernating because they've found ample food sources from residents' and vacationers' trash through the winter. Also, as the U.S. Forest Service explains, bears are not "true hibernators" anyway — they retreat into dens in the winter months to keep the wind and cold from disrupting their sleep, but they are aroused easily, and continue to forage for food at night.
There are an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 black bears in California, though their numbers around Tahoe aren't certain. And they typically are not dangerous unless humans get between a mother and her cubs — these bears also have poor eyesight, which is why it's recommended to make loud noises and wave your hands in the air to scare them off. In this case, the deputies sound an air-horn after the bear left the dumpster, and he wandered off. Generally speaking, the only thing on these bears' agenda is foraging for more food.
T-Shirt got his name because he has a big white "shirt" pattern on his chest and belly, and these deputies have had run-ins with him before.