NDOW releases black bear captured at Tahoe; BEAR League voices concerns | SierraSun.com

NDOW releases black bear captured at Tahoe; BEAR League voices concerns

A black bear runs from dogs used in aversion treatment on Monday morning near Tahoe Meadows.
Courtesy John T. Humphrey / NDOW |

Being ‘bear aware’

There are several websites out there that offer helpful tips regarding being bear aware in the Sierra Nevada. Below are a few:

From the BEAR League: www.savebears.org

From NDOW: ndow.org/Nevada_Wildlife/Bear_Logic

From California Department of Fish and Wildlife: wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Bear

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Nevada Department of Wildlife released a black bear near the Mt. Rose summit on Monday morning.

The bruin, a 3- to 4-year-old male weighing roughly 250 pounds, was captured Sunday morning near an undisclosed business in Incline Village, according to NDOW.

NDOW was attempting to trap a bear that had caused damage to a building in an attempt to reach the area underneath the structure.

“A bear had ripped up lattice in that area, trying to get underneath the building, and had done some damage to the insulation and pipes,” NDOW Public Information Officer Chris Healy said Wednesday.

“The whole thing is so completely, outrageously, abundantly flawed. They need to leave the bears alone.”Ann BryantBEAR League

Due to the high concentration of black bears in the Tahoe Basin, Healy said the department isn’t sure if the bear that it captured and released is the same bear that caused the damage.

“If the bad behavior stops, and you don’t have any problems, then maybe you did get the right bear,” Healy said. “If the damage continues, then you know that bear’s still out there.”

Healy said NDOW had handled the bear once before in the mountains east of the Tahoe Basin.

“We captured him in the spring of 2015 in Little Valley,” said Healy, adding that it was handled during a research project.

In Monday’s release, Healy said, NDOW chased the 250-pound male with three Karelian bear dogs and shot rubber bullets into the air, aversive conditioning tactics used to scare the bear off.

“What we were trying to accomplish with this bear, whether he was the exact bear or not, is keep him away and make him realize that hanging out with people is not a good thing for a bear,” Healy said. “Anytime we can dissuade a bear from increasing conflict behavior, that’s good.”

Bear activity decline

With that in mind, Healy said this is yet another “good warning” to everyone that lives in bear country.

“Even though bears are not going into their dens yet, this is the time of year when they start figuring out where they are going to den up,” he said. “That’s something that needs to be aware of. The last thing you want is a bear using your home or business as a place to hibernate because they tend to do a lot of damage.”

What’s more, this is also the time of year that bears increase the amount of food — from 3,000 calories per day upwards to 25,000 calories per day — needed for winter hibernation, according to NDOW.

“People need to be aware that garbage and bears need to be kept apart,” Healy said. “It’s incumbent on people to do their best to keep it that way over the next month or so.”

Healy said that the recently released black bear was the 55th bear NDOW has handled this year. In 2015, the department handled 121 bears, and two years ago it handled 141.

This year’s decline in bear activity is due to the region’s increase in moisture, he added.

“We had moisture last year and natural food developed in enough quantity that it suited more bears to stay up there (in the mountains),” Healy said. “We’ve had a really mild year in terms of conflict bears.”

‘They need to leave THE bears alone’

Not everyone agrees with NDOW’s capture-and-release of the 250-pound black bear.

At the front of the opposition is the BEAR League, an all-volunteer organization in the Lake Tahoe Basin, based in Homewood, Calif., committed to keeping bears safe and wild in their natural habitat.

“We don’t agree at all with NDOW’s manipulation of the bears, and moving them around and trapping them for no reason,” said Ann Bryant, executive director of the nonprofit group. “They have a territory that they live in. To sedate them is harmful and mixes them up and causes problems.

“And then to bring them to a place where they don’t have a clue where they are, it’s confusing. There’s no reason to be doing this.”

Bryant went onto express her puzzlement over the aversion conditioning NDOW uses when releasing bears.

“They do that at the release site, which tells the bears to ‘go back where you came from’,” she said. “You don’t take the bear, sedate them, and chase them with hounds where you want them to stay. He’s just going to head back to where he was safe.

“The whole thing is so completely, outrageously, abundantly flawed. They need to leave the bears alone.”