Officials: Overall, Lake Tahoe bear season uneventful | SierraSun.com

Officials: Overall, Lake Tahoe bear season uneventful

Sun File PhotoThe Lake Tahoe Basin has seen fewer problem bears this season, wildlife officials said.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. and#8212; While reports of a massive black bearand#8217;s expensive prowl and the apparent shooting of another smaller bear have made recent headlines, the 2009 bear season at Lake Tahoe has been uneventful, officials said.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s been pretty slow, both because of the climactic conditions and because we simply havenand#8217;t been responding to every call,and#8221; said Nevada Department of Wildlife Biologist Carl Lackey, referring to budget cuts earlier this year that affected bear responses. and#8220;Weand#8217;ve had to focus on (calls) that pose immediate public danger.and#8221;

As of last week, NDOW has and#8220;handledand#8221; 36 bears this season; of that total, 21 were captured and released, Lackey said. The remaining 15 bears are dead, either hit by cars (8), killed per the departmentand#8217;s three-strike rule for problem bears (3) or killed because they posed a public safety concern (3). Three of the six bears were killed in Incline, Lackey said.

One bear was also found dead of unknown causes, he said.

In all, Lackey said he has fielded about 200 to 225 calls this season, down drastically from 2007, when NDOW received about 1,500 bear-related calls. The department fielded about 350 calls in 2008, he said.

In California, Fish and Game Biologist Jason Holley estimated he has issued about 40 bear depredation permits this bear season, with about half resulting in bears being killed. The permits span Nevada, Placer and El Dorado counties, potentially going as far north as Truckee and as far south as Markleeville.

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Holley and#8212; who this season was joined by three additional Fish and Game wildlife biologists to deal with black bears and#8212; has and#8220;handledand#8221; about 10 bruins himself, meaning he has captured, then relocated them.

and#8220;When you look at trends, we havenand#8217;t had what weand#8217;ve had in the past, but there have been a handful of problem bears,and#8221; Holley said. and#8220;Still, itand#8217;s nothing like it has been in the past.and#8221;

Holley has received about 450 phone calls about bear activity this summer, and that doesnand#8217;t include phone calls made directly to the DFG bear line.

Wildlife officials are looking for a bear that was apparently shot by an Incline Village man after he said it charged him at his house.

Officials said the man told game wardens he heard a commotion outside his home in upper Tirol early Sunday. He said he opened his door and was charged by a black bear that was about 10 feet away.

NDOW spokesman Chris Healy said the man shut the door, grabbed a rifle and shot the bear, which ran off. A game warden found no blood, but Healy said the man was sure he hit the bear, a male estimated at 350 pounds.

Healy said the bear is not believed to pose a threat and may have died or gone somewhere to hibernate.

The bear is not the same as the one believed to weigh up to 700 pounds that has broken into several Incline Village garages this year, causing more than $70,000 in damage.

and#8212; The Associated Press contributed to this report.