The Nevada bear hunt has reached its halfway point, and 10 bears have now been tagged, Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said.
Recent kills on Sunday and Monday bring the number of bears killed in the hunt to half of the season's maximum quota, 20. None of the bears were killed near Lake Tahoe. The closest was a 700-pound black bear shot on Kingsbury Grade.
The 41 hunters who got a tag were told in the mandatory indoctrination before the hunt opened on Aug. 20 that hunting near Lake Tahoe might bring controversy, especially if mistakes were made, Healy said. And, so far, they seemed to have heeded the warning.
"Hunters have stayed away from the Tahoe Basin, likely because they don't want to get involved in any extracurricular activities, as you might say," Healy said.
Six of the bears were killed in the Pinenut Mountains east of Gardnerville. The other four were shot in mountains to the south.
Four of the bears killed have been females. Only six female bears are allowed to be killed before the hunt ends Dec. 31. If two more females are killed, the hunt will end.
None of the bears that have been killed had been handled or tagged by NDOW. This doesn't necessarily mean that they're not getting into garbage or interacting with humans, but it does suggest that their population estimates might have been low, Healy said.
"What it tells us is that we're conservative in our estimates of the bear population, but you can't say that definitively until the data is in," he said.
All hunters are required to submit a questionnaire to NDOW that provides data on where they hunted and whether or not they made a kill. This, in addition to population studies separate from the hunt, will help the NDOW determine the quota for next year's hunt. It's too early to even guess what the quota will be, Healy said. But as they gather more data, they will be able to understand the population much better, he said.
"One year's data is cool to have," Healy said. "Two, three, four years is even
As the colder weather moves in, the bears are expected to be more active, preparing for hibernation. Their fur will become thicker. Their caloric intake will jump from around 3,000 calories each day up to about 30,000 calories.
With the bears out and about searching for food, the hunters will surely follow.
"I anticipate there will be an increase in hunter activity this weekend and next," Healy said.