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Young Bears in Lake Tahoe Develop Disease That Makes Them ‘Fearless’

First ‘murder hornets’ and now ‘psycho bears’…great….

In 2020, we found ourselves facing a number of unprecedented and downright strange threats to our wellbeing here in the United States and beyond.

It goes without saying that facing a once-in-a-century global pandemic tops the list of unexpected and terrifying developments that we’ve dealt with over the course of the last year, but that certainly wasn’t the end-all, be-all of the situation.   We also faced race riots, asteroids, attempted insurrections, monoliths, and murder hornets, just to name a few.

Now, in 2021, it looks as though we have a new threat to deal with:  A mysterious illness that is making young bears in California fearless.

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The video of a small bear, its head tilted at an inquisitive angle, caught ambling up to a Tahoe snowboarder was the sort of clueless cuteness guaranteed to go viral.

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But for scientists, it was just too cute to be true.

The bear cub was exhibiting behavior — fearlessness at being around humans — that’s been popping up in bears around the state, due to a mysterious lethal condition that causes their brains to become dangerously inflamed.

And this wasn’t some one-off incident.

State veterinarians say that in the past 12 months alone, officials have captured three other bears with the same condition, which biologists in California and Nevada have been documenting in the region’s black bears since 2014.

Bears normally shy away from humans. Even the densely populated bears in the Tahoe Basin that have lost much of their fear of humans and saunter down residential streets usually still take off when approached.

One group reported that a sickly bear even jumped up into the trunk of a vehicle after empathic individuals tried feeding the severely underweight animal.

And while the virus that causes these bears to be fearless is not contractible by humans, the animals themselves are still considered dangerous and should not be approached.

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