Bear, coyote complaints on the rise in Nevada, at Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Bear, coyote complaints on the rise in Nevada, at Lake Tahoe

Staff report
A coyote is seen prowling in the wild in Nevada.
Nevada Department of Wildlife |

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Visit www.ndow.org/Nevada_Wildlife/Living_with_Wildlife for more information about living with bears and coyotes.

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This week, we asked Incline Village residents if they feel there is a black bear problem at Lake Tahoe, for our weekly Word on the Street feature.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — It’s the middle of September in Nevada and that means three things — summer is wrapping up, school is starting, and an increase in bear and coyote activity is getting people’s attention.

“This is the time of the year when the animals are looking to store up for the coming winter months,” David Catalano, wildlife biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said in a recent statement. “Many times the easiest source of food is found in the yards of people living on the outskirts of town, and that’s where the conflict comes in.”

With Nevada in its fourth year of drought, more and more bears are being drawn to easier sources of food such as bird feeders, fruit trees, chicken coops and pet food left outside.

When it comes to bears, however, garbage has always been the No. 1 problem, especially in the Lake Tahoe areas in Incline Village and Stateline.

NDOW reports that nearly 95 percent of all human-bear conflicts are associated with trash. When people are irresponsible with their food and garbage, bears can wind up in trouble.

Bears naturally fear humans, but if they have access to human food sources, officials said 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 NDOW game biologist Carl Lackey. “We’ve proven that by stopping access to human sources of food the wildlife conflicts almost totally disappear.”

Lackey recommends using some simple steps to avoid human-bear conflicts, including using bear resistant containers, using removable bird feeders, keeping pet food cleaned up and indoors and using electric fencing to keep bears out of gardens.

Make sure you only put your garbage out on the assigned day and place the containers at least 30 feet from your house.

The lack of water has led to an increase in coyote activity as well. Animals looking for water are finding an oasis in people’s yards. This attracts the smaller animals such as rabbits, mice and feral cats, which in turn brings in the coyotes.

“These animals are looking for food and water and our urban areas are an artificially maintained ecosystem. It winds up attracting everything a coyote feeds on,” said Catalano. “Of course the coyotes are going to be drawn to these areas and the problem is they don’t distinguish between a rabbit and your pet. It’s all food to them.”

When it comes to coyotes, state officials reminded residents to protect their pets. Coyotes are opportunistic hunters and will take a pet if they think they can get away with it.

Pets left alone in a yard, even when the yard is fenced can be in danger. Pets should always be supervised while outdoors.

If you take your pet on daily walks adjust your schedule to walk pets only during the daylight hours as coyotes often look for food during the cooler times of the day such as early morning and dusk. Another must is to always keep your pet on a leash.

Should you encounter a coyote make loud noises, wave your hands or objects like a stick or broom, or spray the coyote with water from a garden hose. Don’t turn away or run because that may trigger the animal’s predator instinct, but don’t corner a coyote either. Give the animal room to escape.