Bear breaks into Fish Springs home |

Bear breaks into Fish Springs home

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

Another Douglas County resident was an unwilling host to a pushy bear last week.

Anna Zimmerman, who lives in Fish Springs, was surprised to find a bear sleeping in her hallway when she woke up Thursday morning.

She said she got out of bed about 6:30 a.m. and as she was opening her bedroom door, heard a loud thump.

“I thought, ‘Oh no, what’s happening to my house?’ And, as I went through the door, there was a mound in the middle of the hall and it stretched from one wall to the other, about 4 feet. I didn’t turn on a light. I took a step or two over to it and realized it wasn’t just a lump,” Zimmerman said. “I probably could have safely called from my house, but I didn’t think about that, I just wanted to get out. I backed up, then I think I started screaming and ran out of my house, down a 360-foot driveway and down to a neighbor’s front door.”

The neighbors called the police, who called the Nevada Division of Wildlife, Zimmerman said. Then she just watched from a hill above her house and worried about her cats, Callie and Blackjack.

“(The wildlife biologists) said the first time they saw it, he was in the bedroom where the cats were, so I checked in there first, but they had stayed very quiet under the covers. The one cat does that when strangers are in the house. That night, he got up there in the middle of the night, and he never does it if it’s just me in the house. The other one was climbing up as high as he could. I think it was in there probably before 5 a.m., but it probably was sleeping a large part of the time,” Zimmerman said.

She said she thinks the bear knocked a screen out of an open window and climbed in. The bear then apparently helped himself to some French bread by opening a cabinet door and rolling out the shelf (but not very gently). Then he found the pantry.

“He trashed it. He got into the canola oil, a couple of bottles of vinegar, then it mixed with his drool and it’s like cement. Then he walked all over the house and tracked it on the carpets,” Zimmerman said.

Despite the mess and a broken cabinet, Zimmerman and her cats came out unscathed and she is thankful for that. She said she might pay more attention to her cats’ antics from now on.

“It will be a while before I can go to bed and be comfortable. Last night, I walked all around the house when I got home,” she said.

The bear was tranquilized after about 1-1/2 hours and then the Nevada Division of Wildlife destroyed it, said biologist Carl Lackey.

Lackey said DOW decides when to kill a bear on a case-by-case basis, but because of the bears’ aggressiveness, Lackey said the division had little choice.

“We take every situation comes, the fact that it tore out a window (screen), we just can’t justify releasing it,” Lackey said. “We had several reports up in the Pine Nuts of a bear breaking into houses and we had captured one who was identified by one of the families as the bear breaking into their house, and we killed it him over a month ago, but the complaints continued. So, there is good chance this is the bear that was tearing into homes for over a month.”

Lackey said in his experience, once a bear begins eating human food, the animal will become more aggressive in getting food.

He suspects that is what happened in the case of this black bear, which Lackey said was cinnamon brown in color, like about 90 percent of the black bears in the area. He said he estimated the bear was about 15 years old and weighed 360 pounds.

“In that situation, he was actually aggressively looking for food and causing damage. When he saw us, he didn’t even get up, he just lay there with his head on his paws. I half-way expected to find him laying on the bed. Usually, they get that way when they’ve been getting into garbage for a while,” he said.

The bear reported at the Zimmerman residence was the second sighting in recent weeks. Another bear has been spotted two different times raiding garbage cans at the ranch of Annalynn Settelmeyer and Eric Rieman south of Gardnerville.