Two nuisance bears were handled and released back into the wilds of Douglas County this weekend.
Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Carl Lackey and game wardens assisted this weekend by personnel from the Wind River Bear Institute of Florence, Mont.
“We had Rooster (Lackey’s Karelian bear dog) and Soledad, one of the dogs from Montana assisting on each release,” Lackey said.
A bear captured on the west side of Carson City on Friday was released by NDOW on Saturday south of Gardnerville in the Carson Range. The male bear had been captured once before, in Washoe Valley, about three weeks ago.
A female bear captured in Zephyr Cove on Saturday was released Sunday morning in the mountains above her capture site, Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said. The bear had never been captured before and was estimated to be 8 years old. The female bear was not nursing.
Lackey describes aversive conditioning as a means to get bears to avoid humans.
“Once we have the bear in the trap and right as we release it, we shoot rubber bullets at it and chase it with Karelian bear dogs, using all of the tools available to us in our aversion conditioning program. The goal is to make the bear uncomfortable and make it think twice before coming back to civilization.”
Lackey said the releases gives NDOW a chance to “save” the bear from becoming dangerous in the future.
NDOW has saved nearly 400 bears using aversive conditioning treatment since the technique was first employed in the late 1990s.
“The key to saving these bears is that we receive a phone call from the public right when the bear shows up in a neighborhood,” said Lackey. “When we’re allowed to do our job from the beginning, without interference from outside groups, we can save most bears.”