black bear
A black bear (Ursus americanus); (photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

Woman Hears ‘Snoring’ Under House, Discovers 5 Bears Hibernating

As a general rule, strange noises coming from your crawlspace mean something’s not going according to plan.

If you heard a rumbling sound coming from under your house, you may or may not think much of it. Maybe your HVAC system is getting old; maybe your better half started a load of laundry without you noticing it.

Most likely, you wouldn’t think, “I bet a family of bears is hibernating down there.” But in one Lake Tahoe homeowner’s case, that’s exactly what was happening.

The BEAR League, a local nonprofit that commits itself to “keeping bears safe and wild in their natural habitat,” reported the startling discovery on April 19.

According to the group, the homeowner and her cohort thought they heard “odd rumbling” below the house throughout the winter. But they brushed it aside after soliciting opinions from their neighbors, who said they didn’t hear anything.

The League described the sounds as “snoring-like.” The homeowners ignored it, though, because it “simply didn’t make sense.”

But when the sow black bear and her four cubs woke up and got ready to lumber back into the great outdoors this month, the racket they made was unmistakable.

Vindicated but confused about how to proceed, the homeowner called the BEAR League. When the specialists arrived, they “un-invited” the full-grown female black bear from her impromptu den.

At first unaware of the younger animals also sheltering inside, the group said, “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.”

Bear-Proof Your Crawlspace?

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) routinely urges homeowners to secure their crawlspaces for the winter. “Openings or weaknesses in crawlspaces can be exploited by black bears looking for a warm spot,” the agency stated. “Property owners need to secure their properties in bear country.”

According to the CDFW, black bears are now California’s only wild ursines. Grizzlies were extinct in the state by the 1920s, though people still claim to see them there.

As of last year, the department said the black bear population was “robust” and has increased over the last 25 years. Ever since the grizzly’s regional extinction, black bears have benefited from the lack of competition with their larger relatives.

The BEAR League first saw the recently re-invigorated family of five in 2021. The fourth cub, per the group, is adopted.

Its sign-off on the quirky post, “[w]ish them luck, everyone,” has generated no shortage of endearing comments.

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Sam Anderson
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Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.