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November 28, 2012
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Guest Column: Why do our bears have to suffer?

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - I have always felt strongly about protecting our environment and the wild animals that we share our beautiful Lake Tahoe with. As a 30-year resident of Incline Village, I moved here because of the purity of the area - clean air and water, no crowds or road rage, low traffic and crime rate, abundant wildlife, and the ever-present spirit of the Native Americans that once lived here.I chose Incline Village because of the camaraderie of the people and their pro-active lifestyles when it came to protecting its natural beauty and the animals we share it with. I have been in Animal Rescue (professionally) for about 27 years, founding the Pet Network in 1991 and later Lake Tahoe Wolf Rescue, which is still very active. I am also a volunteer for the Bear League which tries to protect our beautiful and intelligent bears around the Lake Basin.I thought it was necessary to let our local residents - and our visitors - know some things that maybe they weren't aware of. Recently a committee mainly of hunters and "sportsmen" decided that we needed to control our bear population by initiating a bear hunt in Nevada. Even though the actual population of bears has not really grown over the years in the entire basin, the number of bears that are apparent - i.e. being seen in our neighborhoods - has grown. That's because many people still insist on keeping their trash or pet food in their garage; or do not have sufficient bear-proof trash containers; or do not lock their dumpsters; or HOAs allow their dumpsters to overflow until they cannot be locked.In any case, to this day we are still inviting the bears into our neighborhoods long after we have been educated about this problem. When a bear is sighted, people panic and call the sheriff, who at times calls NDOW and the warden comes down with his tranquilizer darts. No longer are they trapping the bears, ear marking them and keeping a close eye on frequent offenders. No longer do they leave the bears alone if they are not in trash or a threat to anyone. Instead, now they dart the bear and bring it over the hill into the hunt zone to be hunted and killed. If the bear is lucky enough to survive, it will only try to find its way back into its home territory where it feels safe, often winding up being hit by a car or causing an accident.Now I just found out about an incident that happened only recently. A mother bear and her two cubs, known affectionately by some of our Incline residents, were cornered and darted. One of the cubs - which was not even a year old and quite small - was darted while at the top of a tree. The poor baby fell to the ground on the concrete in front of witnesses. Did NDOW take the cub to our local Wildlife Care to see if it had a broken pelvis, leg or concussion? No. Momma and babies were carted off to the hunt zone where they will likely be pursued, shot, maimed or killed.If momma bear is killed, the cubs cannot survive on their own and will suffer a long and painful death of starvation, dehydration, attack by dogs or coyotes, death on a highway, or all of the above - not to mention the terror and emotional fear the cubs will go through losing their only source of life, love and comfort. Some bozo might even try to capture and sell a bear cub or keep it as a pet (a life of misery).But releasing an injured baby cub - or any other animal - back into the wilderness without first giving medical care is not only deplorable and despicable, but unprofessional and inhumane. This is how our tax dollars are being spent? Who is the one who decides that this is acceptable treatment of our wildlife?I suggest that anyone who has a problem with this apparent new protocol should contact our governor, mayor, NDOW, Sheriff's department and IVGID and give them your opinion. Let them hear our voices and maybe they will think twice before darting bears in trees, or transporting our "protected" wildlife into a hunt zone.If you see trash that has been strewn about by a naughty bear, call the trash hotline at 775-832-1221. You can report this anonymously. A representative will give the offending person or HOA a written warning. If a second warning is needed, there is a $100 fine. The third offense will be a $1,000 fine. But ... if you don't report it, only the bears will suffer.- Pamela Hormiotis is executive director of Lake Tahoe Wolf Rescue and an Incline Village resident.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 28, 2012 07:09PM Published Nov 28, 2012 07:08PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.