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Wildlife Officials: NV Having a Busy Black Bear Summer

PHOTO: It's been a busy summer for state wildlife officials dealing with an increase in black bear nuisance complaints in Northern Nevada. Photo courtesy National Park Service
PHOTO: It's been a busy summer for state wildlife officials dealing with an increase in black bear nuisance complaints in Northern Nevada. Photo courtesy National Park Service
August 13, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. - This spring, state wildlife officials forecast a busy summer for black bear calls in northern Nevada as a result of the drought - a forecast that appears to be right on target.

Chris Healy, public information officer for the state Department of Wildlife, said severe drought is causing a food shortage that is pushing the bears, in much greater numbers than last summer, to search out food in populated areas.

"We did indeed have a very active July," he said. "We actually handled 20 bears in the 31 days of July, and that is 13 more than we handled last year."

Of the 20 bears "handled" in July, Healy said, two were euthanized for posing threats to people and other animals, four were hit by cars and killed, and the rest were captured and released into more remote areas.

Healy said the black bear issues are far from over, as apples, peaches, plums and other fruit ripen on the trees in many a backyard in northern Nevada. As a precaution, he advised that people harvest fruit as soon as it's ready and said fallen fruit should be picked up quickly.

"Because if you leave it there - and as it decays and it emits more and more odor - all you're doing is ringing the dinner bell for the black bears," he said. "They're going to come in and they're going to come to your place every single time, every night, until you finally clean up that mess or the food is gone."

He said the bears use their sense of smell, which is 2,100 times stronger than a human's, to find fruit.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV