Governor Brian Sandoval has declared July "BEAR Logic Month." "BEAR" stands for Bear Education, Aversion and Research, and BEAR Logic Month is an opportunity to help educate the public about living in bear country.
To meet the goal of BEAR Logic Month, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has put together a series of educational materials including public service announcements (PSA), videos, infographics and a resource page on the NDOW website at www.ndow.org/Bear.
In addition, NDOW partnered with Washoe County Health District to produce the documentary length film "Urban Bears - Keeping Nevada’s Bears Wild!" All outreach efforts are aimed at teaching the public about steps that help decrease human-bear conflicts.
Human-bear conflicts often become more common with Northern Nevadans during the summer months, and living in bear country requires that residents take extra precautions.
"Bears can be very tolerant of humans, and very adaptable to urban environments," says NDOW game biologist Carl Lackey. "People are attracting bears with bird feeders, fruit trees, chicken coops, pet food and trash. Especially in a drought, people often make their backyards better habitat than certain types of wildlife can find anywhere else, causing further conflicts."
Bear complaints have risen sharply in the last decade, partly due to the increase of people living in bear habitat. With Nevada in its fourth year of drought and the population of black bears in the state increasing, the problem continues to grow.
"Some people don’t recognize that they live in wildlife habitat, but anywhere along the Carson Front, from Reno to Gardnerville, including the Tahoe Basin and associated mountain ranges, including areas like Galena Forest on the Mt. Rose highway is bear habitat," said Lackey. "With historically very good bear habitat throughout the area, people must continue to take steps to remove food sources that attract bears."
Bears are opportunistic and will eat anything that becomes available. The bear’s powerful sense of smell allows it to find food that humans consider out of reach. By removing these attractants, bear and humans are less likely to have unpleasant encounters.
When people are irresponsible with their food and garbage, bears can wind up in trouble. The Nevada Department of Wildlife reports that nearly 95 percent of all human-bear conflicts are associated with trash. Bears naturally fear humans, but if they have access to human food sources they may become addicted, lose their natural fear of humans, and even become aggressive.
"As always the main issue is people living in bear habitat and allowing bear’s access to their trash," said Lackey. "We’ve proven that by stopping access to human sources of food the wildlife conflicts almost totally disappear."
NDOW believes that by following a few simple steps, you can help avoid human-bear conflicts.
Steps to Avoid Human-Bear conflicts
- Use bear resistant containers (BRCs) and place them outside at least 30 feet from the house so bears do not learn to associate the smells and food rewards with your home. In the Sierra Front, each local government has an ordinance to require such a container if a bear access unsecured garbage multiple times in a specified period.
- Use removable bird feeders (including hummingbird feeders) for temporary placement, or better yet, scatter bird seed on the ground, not in a container or in a pile. This way, bears and other animals like deer won’t be able to easily get it.
- Keep pet food cleaned up or indoors. Place horse grain and chicken feed inside lockable metal containers and keep them outside so bears do not break into your shed or barn.
- Use electric fencing to keep bears out of gardens, apiaries and orchards. You should also remove any fruit as soon as it ripens.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.