Mother bear and cubs, found in Pine View, euthanized | NevadaAppeal.com

Mother bear and cubs, found in Pine View, euthanized

by Susie Vasquez
Nevada Appeal News Service

GARDNERVILLE – A mother bear and her two 9-month-old cubs were euthanized Tuesday, after breaking into several homes in Pine View Estates south of Gardnerville.

The trio, who had been fed by Pine View residents, had graduated to tearing off front doors and breaking into garages, said Carl Lackey of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“They were a double safety threat at that point,” he said. “A fed bear is a dead bear. They were pretty habituated.”

Normally, the cubs are rehabilitated but these two were breaking into homes on their own. The mother bear was first caught in 2000, when she was raiding trash cans. She was given aversion training and released and hadn’t been seen again until this year, Lackey said.

“We’ve been after her since June,” he said.

Of the 80 bears caught in traps in the area, which includes Reno, Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe, just eight have been euthanized. Two other bears raiding a nearby residential area were caught, given aversion training and released this week, Lackey said.

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He contends drought is bringing the bears down to feed.

Known as black bears, their historic range extended throughout Nevada, but has been reduced to the Pine Nut Mountains, remote areas of the Carson Range and in the Wassuks Range near Hawthorne.

Their numbers shrank dramatically about 100 years ago, and viable populations have been reduced to rare sightings, Lackey said.

In the wild, black bears eat mostly grasses, berries, pine nuts and other vegetation. They are primarily loners, but tolerate other bears if a rich source of food is available.

If the garbage and other food sources are properly secured or removed, the bears would return to the wild.

There would still be a few sightings, but nuisance problems would be all but eliminated, Lackey said.

Studies show mortality rates increase substantially for the bears living where garbage provides a steady and rich diet, just one of the many differences between urban bears and those living in the wild.

Due to the rich and abundant food source, urban bears tend to be 30 percent heavier and their population is more concentrated. Urban bears inhabit smaller territories, between three and four square miles, compared to their wild counterparts, with territories of 25-75 square miles.

Hibernation for urban bears can be several weeks shorter, if they hibernate at all.

The future is bleak for these animals, due primarily to development and the garbage that’s left unprotected, Lackey said in a previous interview.

“There’s nothing wrong with living out there, but people shouldn’t leave trash exposed, plant fruit trees, or have koi ponds,” he said.

• Contact reporter Susie Vasquez at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.