Nick Coltrain

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June 26, 2012
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'Long summer of bears' starts with ursine visit to Carson backyard

Berniece and Paul Dahl heard a sentence the other day that most of us probably never will: "There's a bear on your wall."

But with a dry season upon us and little relief in sight, the Nevada Department of Wildlife warned Monday that variations on that warning may become more common as Sierra Nevada black bears forage for food at lower elevations.

The bear that found its way Saturday to the Dahls' backyard, near the Governor's Mansion, was tranquilized and transported to Little Valley, said NDOW spokesman Chris Healy, "an area with some really good bear habitat, hoping that this young bear could find a place to be that does not include areas in and around civilization."

It's unclear why the bear chose the Dahls' backyard. The 1- or 2-year-old male, which weighed in at about 100 to 125 pounds, didn't get into any of their food and didn't have a history of causing trouble in human settlements. They said that once they saw it, they called 911 to reach the sheriff's office, which then called NDOW.

"They were very careful, very thorough and very professional," Berniece Dahl said of the deputies and NDOW responder.

Before shooting it with the tranquilizer dart, the NDOW responder gave the bear time to lower itself in the tree so it wouldn't fall from too great a height, they said.

"I think we were lucky," Paul Dahl said. "He could have damaged a lot more stuff here."

Healy said that while part of the charm of Nevada living is the proximity to wildlife, it also means people on the outskirts - and particularly on the west side of Carson City - need to take care with their garbage so as not to attract bears.

"Once (bears) see humans as a source of food, it's very difficult to dissuade them from using humans as a source of food," he said.

If they do reach that point, "odds turn against the animal" for NDOW being able to just take it back to the wilderness.

Healy said most bear incursions into civilization occur in the fall, making this late-June incident more eyebrow-raising.

"This could be a very long summer for bears," he said.

"It is a very dry year, and when we have a dry year, we usually have some challenges with bears coming into town," Healy said. "This will not be the first time we talk about it."

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jun 26, 2012 12:45AM Published Jun 26, 2012 12:43AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.