My Turn: What did we learn from recent bear incident?
February 26, 2012
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. and#8212;-On Thursday, Feb. 23, at http://www.tahoebonanza.com, an article made reference to Chris Healy of the Nevada Department of Wildlife providing the cause of a recent bear capture on Matchless Court as being, and#8220;Some homeowners in the area were not storing garbage properly and Healy said he’s hoping they will use this experience as an and#8216;educational opportunity’ to change their behavior.and#8221;
Living in the epicenter of this event, I respectfully question Mr. Healy’s report of this causation for the current bear event. Both homes that were involved in this bear incident have bear proof metal enclosures. One of these homes was actually the first in the neighborhood to install bear proof trash containers. Additionally, every morning my neighbor and I walk the entire Saddlehorn loop which is the affected area with this ongoing problem. I have not seen anyone with open trash containers outside until the Wednesday morning trash pick-up.
The two cars which the crafty bear(s) opened up did not contain any food. There have been postings elsewhere questioning whether it was humans that had broken into these cars. Well the owners of these cars saw the bear in their cars. I guess the lesson to be learned is that we need to lock our cars if parked outside. But these cars were not the food source.
I write not to challenge NDOW, as it has a difficult enough job as it is, but there is a far bigger challenge to achieve the goal desired by all; to stop these wonderful creatures from suffering due to human interaction. There has been a great deal of heated rhetoric, wild unfounded accusations and false blaming of residents, NDOW and other agencies. But one thing those involved can all agree on is we all want to prevent harm to these awesome critters.
In this incident, unless someone has made the ignorant choice of secretly setting out food, all the usual deterrents have failed to keep these bears wild. I have personally tried barking dogs, banging pans, air horns at 20 yards, yelling, photo flashes at night, and pine cones. None of this worked. There was Pine-Sol or similar smelling product all around and over the trap that eventually caught one of the bears which thankfully will not be killed.
So what do we have to truly learn from this incident? That there was no improper trash storage or known food source that is keeping the bears in the area. The only factually known possible goody was the grease tray in a barbecue which the bear took a couple licks of and did not like and left. None of the approved recommended tactics for getting bears back into the wild worked.
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We need some other non-harmful method of deterrence that is not deemed wildlife harassment or illegal; paintball or water rocket launchers? Since it is all about food availability, I suspect someone must be feeding these bears and luring them into a bad situation. Why else would these bears have stayed here? How do we get the word to that person (or catch them) that they are endangering the bears?
Finally, referencing the heated rift between bear advocacy groups and many of my good neighbors and the Department of Wildlife and#8212; maybe neutrally moderated public meetings attended by advocacy groups, NDOW, Washoe County Sheriff’s rep, IVGID and interested citizens where the issues and education can occur as well as new ideas for deterrence offered.
The personal vilification of the people involved does not bring resolution of the problem. Such negativity only exacerbates it. Neighbors, once friends, are no longer so. People thinking they were doing the right thing may now be prosecuted. Others with jobs to protect people and wildlife are characterized as villains.
I don’t think that people make a life career in a department of wildlife to become killers of wildlife. In speaking with the wildlife warden involved in this incident, he expressed in words and action that concern for the well-being of animals. On the day of the capture, I saw the warden inspecting the trap at about 7 a.m. When the warden was called by a neighbor somewhere around 8:30 that night, while the rest of us were kicked back watching TV, reading or sleeping, he got back into uniform, drove to the Carson facility and picked up a truck and came up to Incline to pick up the animal.
He did not leave the terrified animal uncared for all night. In my opinion there are no evil people here on either side. Both sides have the same goal of saving bears. How do we work together to stop any bear from harm due to human suburban interaction? How do we and#8220;keep our bears wildand#8221;?
and#8212; John Richard is an Incline Village resident.