Officials sort through bear facts in shady sale |

Officials sort through bear facts in shady sale

by Merrie Leininger

A 9-foot Alaskan brown bear is not something usually found in the evidence locker of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

The DCSO is currently babysitting the stuffed and mounted bear that belongs to Harrah’s Lake Tahoe casino. The DCSO confiscated the bear Jan. 5 from a Reno businessman who made the purchase from a Harrah’s warehouse employee who was not authorized to sell the trophy.

Investigator Aaron Crawford said he tracked the bear down with the help of other warehouse employees.

The bear, which was shot by Harrah’s Vice President Russ McLennan in Port Heiden, Alaska in May 1980, was displayed in the casino’s Outdoorsman sporting goods store for a few years, but recently had been gathering dust in a storage warehouse.

The bear was reported missing in September last year. When the buyer was located, a search warrant was issued and DCSO officers traveled to Reno to collect the bear.

Sgt. Lance Modispacher said the bear will be returned to its original owner within a few days.

McLennan said Tuesday he is very happy to get his bear back and is not looking to sell it.

“I wouldn’t sell it. The only reason I don’t have it in my house is I have two already,” he said.

So, how do you face down a 9-foot grizzly bear?

“Very carefully,” McLennan said.

Modispacher said the bear, worth $18,000, was sold for $500.

No bear-nappers have been charged, but the case is pending.