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July is "BEAR Logic" Month in Nevada

PHOTO: It's BEAR Logic Month in Nevada, a statewide public awareness campaign reminding people that the drought continues to drive bears into populated areas in search of food. Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
PHOTO: It's BEAR Logic Month in Nevada, a statewide public awareness campaign reminding people that the drought continues to drive bears into populated areas in search of food. Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
July 9, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. – As summer's heat increases in Nevada, so does the chance that a human and black bear will cross paths.

Chris Healy, a public information officer with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, says the ongoing drought, which has depleted the bears' natural food sources of nuts, berries and grasses, pushes the animals to search out food in populated areas.

"The bears have been able to successfully find food, like garbage and apple trees, and such things," he explains. "They can actually expand their habitat by going and interacting with humans and human activity."

Healy says about 95 percent of all human-bear conflicts are associated with trash.

The bear problem is so serious that this is the second year Gov. Brian Sandoval has issued a proclamation declaring July as BEAR Logic Month. It's a public awareness campaign, in which BEAR stands for Bear Education, Aversion and Research.

Healy says in non-drought years, black bears don't usually search for food in inhabited areas until later in the summer, whereas they're now being spotted in early summer. He adds there are ways people can reduce the bears' temptation level.

"The single best thing that somebody who lives in bear country can do is to get a bear-proof garbage container and use it," he advises. "You want to make sure that you don't have open windows, open garages that lead to areas where you store food."

Other tips include keeping pet food cleaned up or indoors, and also considering electric fencing to keep bears out of gardens and orchards.

Healy says the fact that more people are now living in what has historically been bear habitat contributes to the problem.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV