State not revealing whole truth about bears

I recently read an article in the Tonopah Times Bonanza & Goldfield News about a black bear that was found wandering around Goldfield eating what it could find. The bear spent the night on the porch of a local judge's house until someone called the Nevada Department of Wildlife and an officer was sent from Reno to capture the bear. That is nothing out of the ordinary for this area if you don't count the fact that a state officer responded in a timely manner. I guess the fact that this bear was involved with a local judge gave the state "incentive" to answer this call.

I have talked to a number of people who have told me they have called the state office and have never received a return phone call. I know this to be true because I have left two messages requesting a call back which was never received. I called after one of my neighbors had a black bear break into her house and never received any response from any wildlife officials. This despite the fact that the Douglas County Sheriff's Office called the state and requested that Officer Carl Lackey respond to the scene of the break-in. As the block captain of our Neighborhood Watch, I made these two attempts at contacting NDOW for the victim who lived by herself. Never got a call back.

State Wildlife Director Kenneth Mayer, Chief Russ Mason and Officer Carl Lackey have countless time said that they respond to all calls that come into their office. With all of the people I have talked to and my personal experience with them, it is clear that these three public servants have been less than honest with their tax paying public. If that is true, what else have they been dishonest (lied) about?

Now back to the news article. The wildlife officer (the article doesn't give a name) estimated the female bear to be about five years old and weighed about 70 pounds. The bear was malnourished and had sores on her feet. The officer tranquilized, tagged and examined the bear. The officer told the crowd of people watching this capture that the bear "would be released elsewhere but was unsure if she would be treated first."

I hope this officer did not know what he or she was talking about after what he or she said to these on lookers.

Releasing this malnourished, 70 pound, injured bear would be a crime. The only way they could not have taken this bear for medical treatment was to kill it. If they did euthanize this bear, this wildlife officer lied to these people. If they released this bear, the state would cause the slow, agonizing death of this bear by starvation.

Wildlife Chief Russ Mason and Officer Carl Lackey have also on numerous occasions said that relocating (releasing the bear out of the area of capture) problem bears does not work which is why the state does not "relocate" bears after capture. Now, who was not telling the truth: Russ Mason and Carl Lackey or the wildlife officer at this scene? What else have they been dishonest about?

In news articles published since September 1992, Nevada wildlife officials have told the public that the bear population in Nevada is between 200 and 300 bears. This number has not changed in 15 years. This summer, they have told us that they have had to an estimated 84 bears killed by motor vehicles. At one meeting I attended, they said that there have been 207 bears killed since 1997 and that the bear population in this area has not changed in years. I also know that a number of bears have been killed by ranchers that have not contacted the state because they received no help from wildlife when the bear problems were reported the first time. It is very clear to me that the wildlife department does not have any idea how many black bears are living in this area or any other area of Nevada. Carl Lackey admitted not knowing how many "wild" bears there are in Nevada while at a Wildlife Commissioner's meeting in Reno (I was also at that meeting).

The California Department of Fish & Game estimate that there are between 10,000 and 12,000 black bears in the Sierra area of that state. Since black bears have a known roaming area of 15 to 20 square miles, it is fare to assume that at any one time, the Sierra area of Nevada may have a great deal more than the figures given by the state.

Since the state does not know the "wild" bear population of Nevada, how can they keep using the 200 to 300 figure they keep telling the public? The fact is they have no idea at all.

On Jan. 10, 2008 I requested further information from the state as to the above bear capture in Goldfield. I received an answer on Jan. 14. I asked the below questions and received the below answers.

Q: What was the bear's condition on capture?

A: The biologist who handled the capture described the bear as being in fair condition but noticeably thin.

Q: Was the bear a tagged or collared bear?

A: The bear was not wearing an ear tag nor a collar when it was captured, however, biologists did tag the bear and fit it with a collar after it was captured.

Q: Any medical treatment given to the bear.

A: The bear was given an examination and dosed with antibiotics, prophylactics & vitamins.

Q: Was the bear released out of the area and if so, at what location?

A: Yes, the bear was transported to an area in the Sierra Nevada where biologists expected the bear would have the best chance of finding suitable habitat with food sources sufficient to sustain the animal.

Unfortunately, the bear was later struck by a vehicle and killed while crossing a major road.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Doug Nielsen

Conservation Education Supervisor

So, it appears that the Nevada Department of Wildlife does, in fact, relocate captured black bears which is what NDOW officials have been tell us.

What else are they being misleading or dishonest about.

n Marshall Goldy is a Gardnerville resident.


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