Too close for comfort: Take precautions to keep bears from visiting | NevadaAppeal.com

Too close for comfort: Take precautions to keep bears from visiting

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

When 18-year-old Spencer Oesterling arrived home Monday night in the Timberline area, he parked his truck and left the garage door open so he could go back out and split some wood.

When he returned to the garage less than five minutes later, however, he found he had a visitor – a black bear was sitting on the floor enjoying a dish of lasagna and Diet Pepsi from a nearby refrigerator.

“He must have been real close when I drove up,” Oesterling said. “I tried to shoo him away, but he just rolled over on his back like he was laughing at me, but then he got up and left.”

Oesterling quickly closed the garage door and went out the front door to get some firewood. That’s when he noticed on the lawn the Pampered Chef dish that had contained the lasagna.

“I went over to pick it up and I heard this whine/growl that sort of sounded like a cow. He was five feet away and pretty big. On all fours, his back was up to my hips, and I’m 6-foot-2,” he said.

“He just stayed there, so I yelled some more and he finally went down to a ditch and lay down by the honeysuckles, so I got in my truck and drove over to honk at him,” he said.

Oesterling said he has called Animal Services in the past, but has been told they can’t respond unless there is a threat.

“He didn’t seem very aggressive, but there are kids who ride their bikes around here and people who walk their dogs. I just think he was a little too friendly,” he said.

For Ken Beaton, the encounter wasn’t nearly as close, but notable.

About three weeks ago, he found bear droppings at the north end of Highland Drive against C Hill.

“I noticed two undisturbed bear deposits in the middle of the north end of Highland Street. … One of my neighbors told me he noticed another bear deposit earlier in the week. No longer using the woods exclusively, a bear does what he/she wants anywhere,” Beaton said.

He later found evidence that a bear had jumped his backyard fence, most likely in search of food.

“We were concerned about coyotes in the neighborhood. A bear causes more concern. Secure your garbage,” he said. “Animals were here first.”

Every year, a number of bear encounters are reported in and around Carson City due to the fact that the city borders U.S. Forest Service land to the west – bear territory.

A problem, according to experts, can develop when bears are drawn to food sources provided by humans.

Carson City Animal Services Director Gail Radtke said the city defers to the Nevada Department of Wildlife for bear calls, but Animal Services will enforce the city’s bear-proofing ordinance.

“We can enforce our regulations if they don’t have bear-proof trash containers, and require them to get them,” she said.

Corey Ookinda, a dispatcher with NDOW’s Wildlife Bear Hotline, said the hotline is available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and callers can leave messages at other times.

“We tell people to first remove all attractants. That can be garbage, fruit from trees, pet food or bird feeders, but we don’t come out unless there is a public safety issue,” Ookinda said.

When temperatures drop and they can’t find any food, they’ll go into hibernation, Ookinda said.

According to the NDOW website, “Nevada’s black bears are primarily found in the Carson front and Tahoe area of Nevada. If you live in bear country, don’t be surprised to see a bear passing by. Maintain a safe distance, and never approach or feed a bear. Use bear-proof garbage containers available through commercial dealers.”