Sierra bears looking for food — lots of food | NevadaAppeal.com

Sierra bears looking for food — lots of food

Nevada Appeal staff and wire reports

You'd be hungry too if you couldn't find any food and were used to eating the equivalent of more than 80 cheeseburgers a day.

An already busy bear season continued Wednesday when a mother and three cubs were being trapped and relocated by Nevada Department of Wildlife from a King Street backyard.

A surge in activity happens this time of year, when a typical bear's food intake jumps from 3,000 to 25,000 calories a day as they prepare for hibernation, said NDOW spokesman Chris Healy last month. That's the human equivalent of 83 McDonald's cheeseburgers.

The animals are going through hyperphagia, a physiological change in which they eat as much as they can to store fat for winter hibernation.

The BEAR League in Homewood, Calif., provides extensive suggestions to bear-proof homes. They include not leaving garbage out near the home for long periods of time and acquiring bear proof trash cans. They also include not leaving pet food out or bird feeders accessible to bears. And cleaning up the area around fruit trees when harvest time comes. The electrification of doors and windows is one of the most effective ways to keep bears away, according to the BEAR League. Furthermore, particularly in the coming months, homeowners should take steps to secure crawl spaces, which can serve as a perfect place for hibernating bears to build their den.

Ann Bryant. Executive Director and Founder of the BEAR League, said she understands people want to see bears, but those sightings need to happen without direct interaction between the human and the bear. Feeding bears can be penalized with a $1,000 fine or one year in jail, and leaving garbage out for an extended amount of time can represent a citation from the city or the county.

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"We want people to have bear experiences," said Bryant. "But we don't want your experience to be that the bear is in your garbage. We don't want your experience to be that the bear is pounding on your window."

For more information about adapting to bear habitat, visit http://www.savebears.org.

"Nothing much gets in the bear's way when they are this hungry," said Carl Lackey, the agency's chief wildlife biologist, last month. "Nature's dinner bell is ringing."