Forget Cocaine Bear, This Bear Ate My Weed
Cocaine Bear is based on the true story of a bear who consumed copious amounts of cocaine in the mid-1980s (but of course). But when I was in Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago, my friends and I may have been responsible for his much mellower alter-ego: Weed Bear.
Having been postponed a year due to the pandemic, my brother’s wedding weekend lake house became more of a party house for his first anniversary. His college friend Carrie brought a large Tupperware of potent homemade weed cookies that were accidentally left on the deck overnight. We found the Tupperware shredded the next morning, with bear tracks staggering away in the sand.
Grieving the loss of the cookies, I looked to Carrie for comfort. “Tell me one thing,” I asked her, “was there enough weed in those cookies to get a bear stoned?”
Her answer seemed to lift her spirits. “There absolutely was,” she told me. And so, we accepted defeat and decided the hungry bear needed the cookies more than we did.
For what it’s worth, other bears have been known to have a taste for weed, too. Back in 2010, when police were busting cannabis fields along the U.S.-Canada border, they were surrounded by 13 black bears that officials believe were used as protection. Bears also have been spotted trying to steal dumpsters from weed dispensaries, and a number of outdoorsy stoners have inquired about whether or not the smell of weed increases the likelihood of bear attacks. (The answer appears to be yes.)
Deer have been known to eat cannabis plants as well. Not to mention, the pet raccoon in Indianapolis that was brought to a fire station for getting too high. Meanwhile, a growing number of domestic pets have been breaking into their owners’ stashes, including dogs, cats, iguanas, ferrets and the occasional horse and cockatoo. (There is evidence that cannabis can be fatal to pets — e.g., the real Cocaine Bear died of an overdose — but it’s rare.)
As for my weed bear, a few months after we returned home from Lake Tahoe, I received a text from my brother about Hank the Tank, a 500-pound black bear who allegedly broke into nearly 30 South Lake Tahoe homes in search of food, not far from where we were staying. Did he have the munchies? Was this our fault?
None of the above, according to NPR: “Hank is a ‘severely food-habituated bear,’ the California Department of Fish and Wildlife explained, adding that the term ‘means that the animal has lost its fear of people and is associating people with access to food.’ The bear ‘has used its immense size and strength to break in and through front doors and garage doors’ over roughly the past seven months, the agency said. The most recent incident occurred late last week, when local police officers were called to a home on Catalina Drive for ‘a report of Hank inside a house,’ according to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. The department posted photos showing a wooden fence whose planks had been shattered, along with a small window.”
“‘This bear did not break into a garage where trash was kept that he was sniffing out,’ the police said. ‘He broke into a secured home, through the small window in the photo, and somehow squeezed inside.’”
There was plenty of speculation that Hank’s capture would lead to his death — with euthanasia being less a punishment for his behavior and more a product of him being unable to function in the wild after developing a dependence on human food.
Thankfully, though, as far as anyone can tell, he’s still alive and well. Either way, it sounds super stressful. I hope our cookies at least brought him a little chill.