Bear activity is "spiking" as the Nevada Day holiday weekend approaches. High-profile black bear activity in west Reno grabbed most of the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s attention this past weekend with two bears caught in traps. One bear was caught in the area around West Plumb Lane and Ferris Lane. Another bear was caught in the Juniper Ridge area.
"These bears are hungry and west Reno offers a lot of temptation," says NDOW black bear biologist Carl Lackey. "Besides the always-present human garbage, there are still fruit trees which attract these very hungry bears." One of the females had been handled by NDOW before, last caught in 2007. That year was another poor year for wild land nuts and berries, similar to the conditions being experienced in the Sierra Nevada this year. NDOW still has two traps set in west Reno because of other bears that are still active in the area.
Both of the female bears caught in west Reno were released, after receiving aversion conditioning treatment (which consists of rubber buck shot fired at the bears and the use of Karelian bear dogs chasing and usually treeing the bears). "We give the bears a bad experience in the hope that they do not come back," added Lackey. "We’ve been successful using this technique."
Early Tuesday morning, a 350-pound male black bear was caught in west Carson City. That bear, according to Lackey, had never been handled before and was expected to be released sometime Wednesday morning.
At Lake Tahoe two bears died in recent days. A young female cub was hit and killed by a car near Zephyr Cove and a two year old female bear was found dead in a small stream. There was no sign of obvious trauma but residents in the area had reported a "lethargic, sickly looking bear" in the area in recent days.
"We may have handled up to 10 bears in the last 10 days," says Lackey, "but it’s too busy to give an exact figure. The time for paperwork will come later in the fall when bear activity slows down." Citizens throughout western Nevada bear country are asked to do all they can to keep from attracting bears. That includes keeping garbage away from the bears and picking up fruit from trees in their yards.
Bear activity in western Nevada is expected to stay "busy and active" for at least the next few weeks. Bears are still in the physiological state of hyperphagia where their in-take of food can increase from 3,000 calories a day to as many as 25,000 calories per day. "Their one and only job is eating this time of year and they are very good at it," says Lackey. Sierra Nevada black bears usually go into hibernation in between Thanksgiving and Christmas as food sources become harder to find.
Persons needing to report nuisance bear activity can call the NDOW’s Bear Hotline telephone number at (775) 688-BEAR (2327). For information on living with bears persons can go to the "Bear Logic" page.