An afternoon on the lake unexpectedly turned into a close encounter with wildlife for beachgoers in California.
A large adult black bear and three cubs took to a South Lake Tahoe beach on Sunday to run and play in the water as about a dozen onlookers watched in awe. The cubs wrestled in the lake as they beat the high temperatures, which hit 90 degrees in South Lake Tahoe that day.
The four bears — along with a few wild geese — made a day at the lake resemble a spontaneous day at the zoo for the beachgoers.
"We were all a little shocked," Jen Watkins, who filmed the bears, told NBC affiliate KCRA. She said the bear took off with somebody’s cooler before returning to the forest.
Authorities from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office told KCRA that getting close to bears is “very dangerous.”
“We are in their territory when we're up in the Foothills and in the Sierra [Nevada],” Lt. Nelson Resendes told KCRA. "Don't feed them, don't entice them, don't provoke them and, obviously in a setting like this ... don't approach them ... respect their space."
A growing number of bears in the Sierra Nevada have been found to suffer from encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that makes bears “dog-like” in behavior and more fearless around humans. At least four bears in California have been found to have the disease since March 2020.
Placer County and California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials will monitor the black bears and move any bears that wander into areas where people gather.