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The Golden State is currently in its fifth consecutive year of “severe drought,”according to the California Water Science Center, with temperatures this year reaching their third-highest record level.
Arid conditions have caused rivers once relied on by wild animals to dry up, meaning animals like bears have been forced to wander into areas occupied by humans in order to find water.
On Tuesday, one such incident saw a family of black bears shock visitors to Pope Beach at Lake Tahoe, when they jumped into the shallow waters to cool off.
Jason Holley, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told KCRA news that people should expect to see the animals more often in drought season.
“Bears will use a lake for water … they’ll use it to cool off. In a drought situation that we’re in, some of their natural streams are dried up,” he said. “So, they’ll really rely on the lake more heavily during times of drought.”
Footage of the bears’ day out at the beach shows the animals playing the waters of Lake Tahoe as the stunned crowd looks on.
A second video reveals that the bears even took time to look in people’s bags for food, before roaming back into the woods.