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State asks residents to be bear aware

Staff Reports

As spring slowly arrives in the Sierra Nevada and the promise of another nuisance bear season arrives, the Nevada Department of Wildlife is urging western Nevada residents to be Bear Aware.

“Living in bear country requires that residents take extra precautions and be ‘Bear Aware,'” Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “At this time of year we see an unfortunate rise in human-wildlife conflicts, and recent encounters in the Lake Tahoe Basin demonstrate that safety and security must be our first priority.”

The Nevada Department of Wildlife has existing urban bear management processes and a Bear Aware public education program in place. The department classifies a dangerous bear as one that has exhibited aggressive behavior towards humans, or has an unnatural interest in humans without provocation and is perceived to be a threat to public safety or personal property.

The state has a three-strike policy for nuisance bears that are found in urban areas but are generally not causing damage or showing aggressive or unusual behavior; in these instances, bears are tranquilized and released. Most of the time these releases take place in the area near where the bear lives but, depending on the circumstance, the bear may possibly be transported to an area outside of their estimated home range.

During these releases the department performs aggressive aversion training on the bear to scare them and reduce their level of comfort with humans.

Since Feb. 22, four nuisance bears have been caught by state personnel in the Incline Village and Crystal Bay communities of Lake Tahoe. Significant property damage to houses, cars and even a dry-docked boat was reported by property owners. In addition, the bears showed a lack of fear of humans. Three of those bears have been euthanized as dangerous or aggressive and one was caught, given aversive conditioning treatment and released.

“I commend citizens for taking precautions and urge them to continue to be aware,” Wildlife Director Ken Mayer said. “This is a public-safety issue and continued emphasis on public education and enforcement of bear-proof trash ordinances will help mitigate any issues.”

Residents that want to become more bear aware can visit the website at http://www.ndow.org and click the Bear Aware link.

Residents who wish to support bear management and public education can donate directly to state’s Wildlife Trust Fund by writing a check to Nevada Department of Wildlife and including a letter addressed to the Director stating the purpose of the donation. The donation, which can be mailed directly to state, will be used according to the listed purpose of the gift.