Mid-March is the time for black bears to emerge from their dens and begin their annual search for food.
The first bears to emerge are usually males and females that do not have cubs. Females with cubs usually emerge from the den later in the spring, from mid-April to early May.
“The bears are ready to eat as they emerge from their long winter’s nap,” said biologist Carl Lackey. “They will eat emergent grasses and forbs and will also key in on the carrion of dead and decaying animals that died over the winter period.”
Bears in the Lake Tahoe Basin will also be looking toward human garbage as a source of food.
“Every year, the first bears to get into trouble are the young males, many of whom are generational garbage bears,” Lackey said. “These bears are born to females who have taught them that humans are a source of food.”
The old warnings from past years are still valid. “If you live in bear country,” he said, “do not allow bears access to garbage.”
Lackey advised people to keep garage doors shut and car doors locked, and to keep all food sources away from bears.
Since March 1, NDOW has captured three bears, all young males. An injured bear at Heavenly Valley Ski Resort was captured and turned over to California authorities for care. On March 7, another injured bear was captured in Incline Village. The nature of the bear’s injuries were not obvious, but the bear had to be euthanized. A third male bear was caught on the west side of Carson City over the weekend while raiding garbage cans. It was tranquilized and later released in the mountains south of Carson City.