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Bears won’t go to bed

Linda Hiller, Staff Writer

If you were to guess, where would you say that Ursus Americanus – our native black bear – is right at this moment … asleep in a bear den, snoring softly beneath the snow or still awake and running around?

“Right now, they’re not denned up,” said Carl Lackey, resident biologist with the Nevada Division of Wildlife. “We have 21-22 collared bears out there, and for the most part, they’re not denning up. We only have a few collared bears denned up right now. It’s been warm and there’s a food supply – why would they den up when they have all this free food from people’s garbage?”

Lackey said he has received several bear calls from the Topaz Ranch Estates/Double Springs area south of Gardnerville in the last month. He said a trap had been set at Double Springs, but with no bear captured as of Tuesday.

A Nevada Department of Transportation rest area north of Holbrook had been the site of several bear sightings and bear/vehicle encounters on the nearby highway, Lackey said, but highway officials cooperated with wildlife department requests to make a few changes that have already made a difference.

“We asked them to remove or bearproof their garbage cans, and they were very cooperative,” he said. “We appreciate it. We’ve had several bears hit and killed near there in the last four years.”

n Changing routines. Lackey said TRE has not regularly been the site of bear encounters in the past, but if they become more frequent, residents there may want to look into changing their garbage routines, much like Foothill and Lake residents have.

“People have to keep their garbage inside and then get up early to put it out on trash day, rather than leave it out all night,” he said. “Or, they can use the bearproof containers – you can get them at Home Depot.”

Pat Flesner, a resident of TRE with her husband George, said Thursday night a bear visited her yard while they slept.

“We’ve lived here 14 years and this is the first time we’ve had a bear,” she said. “It was trash night and the garbage was out. The bear not only got into that, it also damaged all my bird feeders. It startles you when you look out and see all that destruction.”

Flesner said the next two nights, a bear visited her neighbor’s yard.

“We told all our neighbors right away about it,” she said. “The neighbor above us had a bag of hen scratch and the next night, he actually heard the bear rip the bag apart. The third night, the bear came back to the same man’s yard and managed to get in the sun porch, but no farther.”

Lackey said it only takes one food item to attract bears to a yard.

“Bears are smart – they remember where they find food,” he said. “What people can do is to not leave anything out for them to eat and encourage their neighbors to do the same. They could also look into the possibility of renting a common dumpster from Douglas Disposal.”

The Nevada Department of Wildlife sent circulars for TRE residents after they reported the bear, Flesner said.

“One of the things in the fliers that I didn’t know was that you’re supposed to spray ammonia around the trash cans,” she said. “The fliers also suggested taking in bird feeders at night, which is what I’ve been doing.”

Lackey said area bears usually start to den up between the end of November to mid-December.

“It’s getting late, but we’ve seen some bears that look for the most part like they were heading in to hibernate. If the temperature drops some more, they’ll go in,” he said.

For information or reports on bears, call (775) 423-3171.