A sit in was foiled early Friday morning by sheriff's deputies and the Capitol Police who sent a treed bear scampering toward the ground. The bear had taken up his post in the old elm outside the Governor's Office window at the Capitol.
The 320-pound black bear climbed about 30 feet into the tree, but officers scared it into climbing down by turning on flood lights. When the bear was eight or 10 feet off the ground, Carl Lackey, game biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, shot it in the behind with a tranquilizer dart.
A couple of minutes later, the bear dropped unconscious and unhurt to the ground.
Lackey, who specializes in handling bears and other large animals, said this isn't the department's first encounter with this bear. The 5-year-old male - with ID tag number 105 in his left ear - was caught in a south Reno neighborhood in May 2004 and in northern Douglas County in late 2004.
"He's an urban nuisance bear," said Lackey.
And he said No. 105 is far from an isolated case. Nearby as they worked with the bear at Lackey's father's Douglas County ranch was another cage containing a female with two large cubs captured in a residential neighborhood Thursday. He said another bear was waiting for them at Stateline - also captured Thursday in that city.
That's five bears caught "where they shouldn't be" in just two days, he said.
After loading No. 105 up Friday outside the Capitol, Lackey and wildlife biologist Alyson Andreasen decided if the bear was going to keep being a problem, he might as well help them study the growing problems of bear-human contact in western Nevada.
As reporters and a British documentary team doing a series about conflicts between humans and animals looked on, they fitted No. 105 with a GPS radio tracking collar that will allow them to track his every step for the next year.
The mother of the two cubs will get a similar collar, as this isn't her first capture either.
Andreasen said No. 105 is a good candidate for the tracking collar because "he's never doing anything to bother anyone."
"He's a pretty shy bear," she said. "Every time he's been caught, he's been hiding from people."
She said he's just looking for food to fatten up in time for winter hibernation and, although he's a bit thin, he's in good shape to make it through the winter.
"He's a strong, healthy, big bear," she said. "Just not very fat. He could grow another 100 to 150 pounds."
She said he was probably "moving back and forth between the Sierra Nevada and the Pine Nut Mountains crossing through town and hitting the Dumpsters on the way.
Andreasen was raised in western Nevada and recently received her masters' degree in Colorado with a paper on black bears. She said she returned to Nevada to continue that research because the area is perfect - a good bear population that hasn't been heavily studied and more and more incidents involving people and bears.
Even though No. 105 is mellow for a bear, seeing a bear ambling through the Capitol complex was pretty unnerving for the Carson City sheriff's deputies and everyone else who saw him.
Lackey said the bear will get antibiotics as well as a blood test and a thorough physical exam before he is released.
When they release him this morning, however, no one will be waving good-bye. Instead, he'll be run off by noisy humans and a team of dogs. Andreasen said the idea is to reinforce his fear of humans and discourage him from coming back to town.
-- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.