Increase in bear complaints around Lake Tahoe, Reno prompts new hotline | SierraSun.com

Increase in bear complaints around Lake Tahoe, Reno prompts new hotline

Associated Press

Got a bear problem? Lake Tahoe residents and Northern Nevadans now can turn for help to a new BEAR hotline.

Nevada Department of Wildlife officials said they decided to establish the hotline after they dealt with a record number of bear complaints last year in the Lake Tahoe and Reno areas.

The hotline is wired directly into the agency’s dispatch center in Reno. Calls can be made to (775) 688-BEAR between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.

“The hotline is designed to be more responsive to bear problems,” department Director Ken Mayer said.

The department will respond to calls based on prioritized threat levels, Mayer said.

“We will do our best to respond to calls, but keep in mind that biologists and wardens have other duties as well, such as deer surveys and poaching investigations,” he said.

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Residents who have simply sighted bears or had garbage cans tipped over by bears are being asked to refer to the agency’s Web site (http://www.ndow.org ) for advice on reducing bear problems.

The site’s “Keep Me Wild” section includes tips on removing garbage, pet food and bird feeders.

Last year, department personnel handled 1,531 bear complaints compared with 350 in 2006.

Many of the complaints dealt with bears that visited neighborhoods in search of food after a drought drastically reduced their natural food sources.

About 300 adult bears live in Nevada, primarily around Lake Tahoe.

In line with other Western states, the department does not usually set bear traps unless the human-caused attractant has been removed and other precautions have been taken.