Bears invade Fish Springs

Black bears are showing up all over the Lake Tahoe Basin and Douglas County now. Even in our little Fish Springs Valley, from the north end of Fish Springs to the south end and in between, we're hearing reports of bear sightings. It seems like each year there are more and more problems with the increase of people moving to bear country. They're getting into residents' trash cans, pet food, fruit trees and even their homes. And especially if they live in Fish Springs, there are more sightings along the nearby Pine Nut Mountains.

Daleen Weaver and her family live east of Windmill Road on Jacobsen Lane. She said several nearby residents have been seeing bears in their yards and one particular mama bear has a couple of cubs with her. Laura and Mark live over by the fire station along Jacobsen Lane and Calle Pequeno. It appears that a bear dumped out their big trash can and also climbed up on the outside wall of the house and pulled off their songbird feeder and demolished it.

During the 26 years that my husband and I have lived in Fish Springs we've never seen a bear on our property, but last week Dolly Schreckengost and Lori Judnick both saw a big black bear just outside of their yards - and they live next door to me. It was about 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19, when Dolly's dog Niner kept barking at something in her backyard while Lori's horse got so agitated that it jumped over the fence into Dolly's pasture.

Dolly said at first she thought the animal that she saw was a big horse, but then it started to run fast and she knew it was a very large black bear. The bear was running north along the bottom of the BLM hill that's behind our house at the north end of Fish Springs Valley. We think the bear came up the dry creek bed.

Tamsy Court residents Elaine and Rich Pace had a bear intruder every night last week. It not only got into their trash can, but it also climbed up in their Russian olive tree, over the fence into their vegetable garden and ate most of their grapes. It looks like residents of Cora Court, like Sue Martin, had the same bear in her yard and she's been notifying all the neighbors so they too will be aware of the bears here in Fish Springs.

The bears are getting ready for their winter hibernation and they need a lot of fat to last through it. If these "nuisance bears" know where the garbage cans are (or in our case it would be the vegetables still growing in our garden) and they get used to seeing us out harvesting the crops, they may no longer be afraid of us. That's when they become dangerous.

It's the residents' responsibility to remove the things that draw in the bears. Their great sense of smell attracts them from distant areas. For instance, we need to clean our barbecue grills after each time we use them, use bear-proof garbage containers with ammonia sprayed around the area and keep pet food indoors.

I had a bad experience once in King's Canyon National Park when a bear actually ran after me. It was already dark when I went to the trash cans near our campsite. An exceptionally large dark-colored bear was standing up on his hind legs trying to tear open the trash containers when I startled him with my flashlight. He growled loudly and ran at me. I've read that you shouldn't run from an aggressive bear, and you shouldn't scream either. What you should do is, speak softly to the bear as you back slowly to a tree, climb the tree as fast and as high as you can or, as a last resort, play dead. Fat chance. I couldn't do that, I just screamed bloody murder and ran for my life. The angered bear chased me into the campsite. I ran into my tent while he ransacked the pots and pans that were on the table. All night long I needed to go to the bathroom, but I knew Papa Bear was hiding outside my tent waiting to eat me up. I didn't sleep that night and I kept my legs crossed until morning.

Now I've learned to wave my arms to look bigger, not to look into the bear's eyes and to use bear pepper spray if needed. If a bear is getting into your car or your garage, call the Nevada Department of Wildlife at (775) 688-1331. But if one comes in your house, call 911 immediately.

-- Linda Monohan may be reached at 782-5802.


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