My Turn: Matchless Bear redux – still not learning | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Matchless Bear redux – still not learning

John Richard
Special to the Sun

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – Groundhog Day continues. Following publication of Part 1 pleading for new aversion ideas instead of shame and misinformation dissemination, the shame camp posted my personal info for castigation. The BEAR League executive director wrote numerous false statements about my activity. The shame folk’s mission statement claims a laudable venue of “an open dialogue.” Guess that dialogue must only be what they want heard.

The BEAR League’s work to save bears is admirable. But valuable group participants are denigrated by others bullying and false statements to belittle those trying better ideas to do better for the bears. Sorry the video showed this bear’s activity was quite different from what they’d reported. Evidence shown in the video – throwing rocks, dogs, yelling, banging pans and bells, air horn (went through 2 air horn cans), Pin-Sol in culvert, whistles, yelling/charging waving hands – did not work. March 14 found two of us at the bear’s culvert, car horns blaring for 15 minutes. Bear stayed put.

Banding into separate camps tossing polarizing blame assumptions and false statements didn’t produce action to save these beloved guys. BEAR League was onsite for weeks and was not successful in averting either bear.

Factually, BEAR League was the first entity called when this February event started. Two residents called (one who’d donated to NoBearHuntNV.org and displays a League car sticker). These residents followed the League instructions spraying Pine-Sol; but the League never showed. The League finally appeared after the first NDOW trap arrived.

League and Lake Tahoe Wall of Shame groups then harmfully published these residents’ personal info obtained from their calls for help, resulting in serious threats. The League’s current tactics didn’t work with this second bear either. They claimed in one instance a sheriff prohibited them from their aversions. But the League was onsite for 3 weeks with aversion tactics that didn’t happen or failed.

That’s the point of what I’ve written and video produced. We need to work together instead of making enemies of residents, NDOW, Sheriffs and IVGID. While many experience love seeing these bear characters in our neighborhoods, it’s clearly not in their well-being. I enjoyed watching these 2 yearlings wrestling in the forest above my house. But now one is gone forever. Can we put aside our wants, emotions, convictions, animosities and open our minds to find actions good for the bears?

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Look at it from the logistics. When a bear first enters neighborhoods, the timeline order of who can take quickest bear aversion action is 1) nearby residents 2) sheriff, bear groups, and IVGID 3) NDOW in Carson. Since immediate, quick aversion effectively dissuades at-risk bear behavior, it behooves us to arm residents with working tools.

Seen in the video, current lawful aversion methods failed. We used everything in the League’s literature and more. Certainly untrained residents using tools like rubber bullets that could physically harm bears or people won’t work. It would help to give the sheriffs back aversion tools and authorizations lost to budget cuts. Extensively trained Sheriffs are the quickest entity onsite. I cannot help thinking if sheriffs in the video were armed with rubber bullets, firecrackers or paintball guns this bear could still be alive.

If a curious bear can quickly be made to dislike human interaction and remain in his natural habitat, this is better action than relocation. NDOW reports bear relocation is often unsuccessful because the bear is either killed by other bears whose territory he’s been forced to invade or he travels back to his original territory and trash habits.

I propose IVGID or Sierra Nevada College, having local capabilities, host public discussions. Stakeholders (NDOW, Washoe Co Sheriff, County legal rep, IVGID, bear groups, aversion specialists, and residents) attend to respectfully participate. To prevent an emotionally charged event failing, ground rules enforced by a professional mediator need to be set up.

Since “gotcha” isn’t the goal, parties should identify speaker(s) in advance. Questions to various speakers should be submitted in advance preventing off-the-cuff answers failing the goal. The mediator then summarizes specific actions derived from discussions. Agencies take these proposed actions and review if they can implement them from legal, procedural, and budgetary perspectives.

On an agreed date, each entity would report in a central venue actions they can and will employ. Residents will be informed what aversion tactics they are allowed. Confusion between residents, businesses, bear groups, sheriffs, IVGID and NDOW will be clarified. We’ll all be on the same page. There will be clearly stated policies.

This has been a prolonged diatribe. Having read this far, you’re probably part of large group of well intentioned people who take this life and death issue importantly. You may feel frustrated and helpless to do something about it. I know I and many neighbors do. Let’s fix it!

Currently, we’ve had three recent incidents providing opportunity to learn and take new action. We’ve failed so far. Another bear lost its life. And all caring parties are still doing the same thing. Its still Groundhog Day.

John Richard is an Incline Village resident.