Bear sightings reported in Pine Nut Mountains
Like a bad penny, the rumor of out-of-area bears being released in the Pine Nuts, won’t go away.
Jackie Phillips, a Topaz Ranch Estates resident for the past four years, called The Record-Courier this week to find out if it was true that nuisance black bears from Yosemite National Park were bring transplanted to the Pine Nut Mountains in Nevada.
“In a word, ‘no,'” said Carl Lackey, Nevada Division of Wildlife biologist. “We don’t have an agreement with California wildlife to transfer bears back and forth. Typically, we do on-site releases. Every year we hear rumors that bears are being dumped in the Pine Nuts, but it’s just not true.”
Lackey said the reason TRE residents might be seeing more bears this year is more likely due to a couple of factors – the increase in homes and the fact that these homes are in a perfect location for bear travel.
“We now have 800 homes in TRE and the surrounding area, and three nearby mountain ranges that all contain bears,” Lackey said. “There’s a major travel corridor right there at at Jack Wright Pass.”
– In the Sierra. Friday, Lackey released a bear that had been trapped behind the Fox and The Hound Bar and Grill in the Kingsbury Grade area. That bear was released a few miles away from the restaurant after being treated to some aversion therapy – rubber bullets, pepper spray and loud human voices – to make it think twice about coming around human civilization again.
“This was a 3-1/2-year-old, 150-pound male black bear that had been coming to the dumpster at night,” Lackey said. “He was a first offender. We caught him right away and released him down the hill.”
Lackey said bear complaints in the area where the bear was trapped have declined since homeowners and businesses have been bearproofing.
“The calls there have pretty much gone to nil in the last two to three years,” he said. “The Tahoe Village Homeowners Association and The Ridge Tahoe Resort have both been excellent at bearproofing garbage and bear complaints have almost gone to nothing since then. Of course, bear conflicts and encounters are going to continue, but they’re really going down.”
Owners of the Kingsbury restaurant where Friday’s bear was trapped are in the process of obtaining bearproof garbage containers, Lackey said.
“If they call us back and say the bear is there and they haven’t done anything to bearproof, we don’t have to go and get the bear,” he said.
– What to do. Phillips said she is concerned about the increased bear sightings in her neighborhood, even if the bears aren’t coming from Yosemite.
“We definitely have a bear problem here,” she said. “I can count four incidents in the last week. Maybe we need to do more bearproofing. I camp at Twin Lakes, and when they put in the bearproof Dumpsters, it helped immensely.”
“I’ve lived here four years,” Phillips said. “We’ve had mountain lions here, but not bears.”
Lackey said he is happy to come to any neighborhood that is having bear problems and talk about how to live among these large mammals.
“I can tell you that 99 percent of it is in the garbage,” he said. “The bearproof garbage containers are so important – I think there will eventually be laws requiring it.”
Lackey said there are three nearby sources for bearproof garbage containers – Home Depot, offering a relatively small metal container that sells for around $280, McClintock Metal ((800) 350-3588 and Bearicade at South Lake Tahoe (530) 577-7003, both selling larger containers running around $600 to $700.
“It may sound expensive, but sooner or later it’s going to be mandatory, and one encounter with a bear can cost lots more than that,” Lackey said.
A large male bear in the Pine Nuts had to be killed recently because a homeowner out there was feeding it and it began to break into trailers and homes.
“This guy was actually feeding the bear 40 pound bags of dog food,” Lackey said. “And we just had some calls about bears in the Lakeview area (north of Carson City). Two people there admitted to feeding the bears.”
Lackey’s mantra for people living in bear country is “a fed bear is a dead bear,” meaning if you feed bears, whether intentionally or not (through sloppy garbage handling), the chances are, the bears you are acclimating to humans will eventually have to be killed by wildlife officials.
“It’s a simple message,” he said. “There are ways to live among bears safely and most of it involves smart handling of garbage. We are willing to give presentations on bears to anyone.”
Lackey can be reached at 687-4393 or (775) 877-1500.
If you live in bear habitat:
– Watch children closely.
– Make noise.
– Use ammonia around garbage. Don’t put aromatic foods in there. Seal in plastic.
– Wait until morning to put garbage out for the truck.
– Use bear-proof containers or lockable Dumpsters.
– Keep pet food secluded.
– Use electrical fencing or loud dogs.
– Don’t feed any wildlife.
If you encounter a bear:
– Don’t run. Make eye contact and try to be “big” by waving your arms and yelling. Put children on your shoulders.
– Never feed or approach.
– If it attacks, fight back with anything – rocks, sticks, pepper spray. Warning signs of attack are: ears laid back, sidelong glances, foot-stomping and jaw-smacking.