Bear-shooting incident prompts call for tough ordinance in Washoe County
RENO – A bear-shooting incident is prompting a renewed call for a tougher ordinance requiring bear-proof trash containers in Washoe County.
Robert Mahlum said he fired at a bear after the animal crashed through his front door while he slept Wednesday night at the Reindeer Lodge in the Sierra near Reno.
“I fired three times at what was basically the silhouette of the bear and I think I hit him at least once,” Mahlum told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper. “He dropped to all fours and took off running.”
Carl Lackey, a biologist for the Nevada Division of Wildlife, said he found unprotected trash bags around the lodge when he arrived the next day to investigate.
He said Washoe County’s failure to enact an ordinance requiring bear-proof containers is partly to blame for such incidents.
“They don’t even have a Dumpster on the premises. The residents were putting their bagged trash in a wooden shed,” Lackey said. “That won’t keep the bears out.
“Washoe County has really dropped the ball when it comes to putting something on the books that would hopefully prevent incidents like this. This person was very lucky, the bear wasn’t, and now we’ve got a poor wounded animal out loose and suffering,” Lackey added.
Many communities around Lake Tahoe and the Sierra foothills have enacted ordinances requiring the bear-proof trash containers.
Washoe County spokesman Mike Wolterbeek said the ordinance is still under consideration by county commissioners.
“I agree that it’s a problem, but to what extent we don’t know yet,” he said. “That’s for the community to decide.”
Paul Zahler, member of the citizens advisory board at Incline Village, said the board addressed the issue earlier this year.
“Where it was left, was that the board felt it wasn’t as prevalent a problem on this side of the lake and that we could handle incidents here on a case-by-case basis,” Zahler said.