INCLINE VILLAGE (AP) - A really big bear is causing big problems at the Lake Tahoe community of Incline Village, Nevada wildlife officials said.
The black bear, estimated by some to be around 700 pounds, may be responsible for as much as $70,000 in damage this year, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife. It has evaded traps and special night patrols sent to look for it.
Even two bullets fired by a homeowner did little but slow him down for a couple of weeks.
"The deputies up there all say he's the biggest bear they've ever seen," Carl Lackey, a biologist and bear expert with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said Tuesday.
"He'll walk right by a trap, he won't go in them. He's really random in where he goes. He's made it real tough to catch up with him."
Lackey said that this summer, a homeowner armed with .44 magnum handgun confronted the bear after it broke into an Incline Village home that it had already broken into several times before.
"He shot it right between the eyes and the bullet bounced off his skull. We know that because we found it," Lackey said. "He shot it again and hit it. We know that because there was a lot of blood, but it wasn't a mortal wound."
Within a few weeks, the bear was back to its old antics, breaking into garages and going after trash or food in freezers.
Lackey, who has been chasing the bear for the last three years, said it has broken into 40 or 50 garages around Incline this summer alone.
Incline resident Claire Vaughan heard a crash one night and looked outside, only to witness a "huge" bear that had just knocked out a panel of her garage door. She watched as the bear later tried to open the door latch of a locked car parked outside.
"He's smart. He's super smart," Vaughan said. "He's a big, bad boy."