Safety Information

Wildlife sightings near your home present an amazing opportunity that many never experience. Enjoy these sightings. Unless there is a public safety issue, there is no need to contact NDOW.

What is a public safety issue?

Simple sightings of animals passing by do not pose a public safety problem.

“Sightings of all sorts of wildlife are common in Nevada,” said Mike Geist, NDOW game warden in Reno. “If you are living in bear, mountain lion or coyote country, you should not be surprised to see these animals pass by from time to time. The best thing you can do is to leave the animal alone and to maintain a safe distance.

A public safety issue does arise when potentially dangerous wildlife such as a mountain lion, black bear or rattlesnake is found in a home, garage or outbuilding, or in close proximity of the property.

“If you have a mountain lion in your backyard or a rattlesnake in the sandbox, then call,” said southern region warden Frank Chaves. “We’re here to help the public,” he said, however, he says that often times the best way to help the public is to teach them how to resolve the issues on their own. The tips offered below will help the public with many such issues.

Often times, wildlife sighting are due to human behavior. Keep food sources away from wildlife, and avoid unpleasant encounters.

Also, always keep your distance and never touch wildlife. Even though a critter may look cute and cuddly, remember that wildlife is wild. Wild animals typically avoid contact with humans whenever possible and may attack or bite in self defense if you come too close.

Who do you call?

There is no need to call if you simply see wildlife passing by. The best thing you can do is to leave the animal alone and to maintain a safe distance.

However, if your safety is at risk, or if you have an encounter with a black bear or a mountain lion, or if an attack occurs, contact the Department of Wildlife's Dispatch office at (775) 688-1331 or (775) 688-1332. If for any reason you are unable to contact dispatch, please contact your local police or sheriff's office, or the Nevada Highway Patrol, and ask them to reach one of our wardens.

NDOW also has a BEAR Hotline at 775-688-BEAR wired directly into NDOW’s Dispatch Center in Reno. Normal business hours are 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. The hotline is for those who are experiencing conflicts with bears after removal of all human attractants.