Bear season - not bear hunting - is upon us and wildlife specialists say there are a few things Carson City residents can do to discourage bears in their neighborhoods.
Following the killings this summer of two bears in the Kings Canyon and Lakeview areas, Nevada Division of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said bears may be cute, but they can also be a danger when loose in an urban area.
In preparation for winter hibernation, bears are trying to bulk up. That means a daily intake of 25,000 to 30,000 calories. Of the 250 known bears in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Sierra Front, many will come to the lower elevations and developed areas looking for an easy meal.
"If they are breaking into homes and back yards, they are a danger to humans," Healy said. "When they get used to the food and trained to break into garbage cans, they have to be put down. We have had to put down four bears this year. All four were trapped and euthanized."
The number-one priority is to keep lids on trash cans and food sources isolated. "We've actually seen people who leave dog food outside for the bears," Healy said.
Secondly if a bear is sighted in a residential neighborhood, residents are encourage to safely attempt to scare it away.
Bear incursions in Carson City resulted in the killing this summer of a 3-year-old male on July 21 and a 9-year-old on Aug. 7. A Gardnerville bear was killed July 5.
Before a bear is killed, wildlife officials attempt to relocate it or use scare tactics so that it develops a dislike or distrust of humans. Pepper spray and blasts with plastic-loaded shotgun shells are among the preferred methods.
If relocation does not work, the bears are put down.
"They're not the bad guys," Healy said. "People who feed the bears train them to be this way"
Dave Patterson, Capitol City Humane Society enforcement officer, does not agree with the division's methods of driving bears away. He said bears should only be killed in extreme situations.
"How can you trap a 500-pound animal and then shoot it," he said. "Once a bear has made an excursion into a home, they trap it and shoot it."
He said the humane society went door-to-door warning people about the pitfalls of feeding bears.