LAKE TAHOE (AP) — A bear that experts determined was posing a threat to people at Lake Tahoe was killed Wednesday by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the first bear put down for public safety concerns in 2014.
It’s an indication this summer could be a particularly busy season for conflicts with the animal, experts say.
The 3-year-old male black bear was darted at Glenbrook and later chemically euthanized in Reno, said Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy. The bear had demonstrated behavior that convinced officials it posed a danger to humans, Healy said.
“It just was not acting wild and it was a very dangerous bear,” Healy said. “It was climbing on top of cars and trying to enter homes. It was just way too familiar with people.”
Since early July, Department of Wildlife officials have captured and later released five other bears that wandered into neighborhoods — two in Incline Village, one in Glenbrook, one in Caughlin Ranch and one in Carson City.
When released, the bears were subjected to so-called “aversion conditioning,” being shot with rubber bullets and chased by specially trained dogs in an effort to discourage future contact with humans.
The bear killed Wednesday, previously captured as a cub in Carson City in 2011 and again in Glenbrook last year, was deemed to be too dangerous to be given another chance.
“We’re pretty confident we do all we can to keep bears alive and wild,” Healy said. “We only do this as a last resort.”
Last year, five bears were killed after being deemed threats to public safety.
Critics contend the Department of Wildlife is far too eager to kill bears in Nevada.
“Here we go again,” said Ann Bryant, founder of the nonprofit organization The Bear League, established in the late 1990s with the goal of minimizing conflicts between people and Tahoe’s bears.
“NDOW is putting down way too many bears,” Bryant insists. “We don’t agree killing is the answer. It takes away the respect for bears and that is what people need to live with them.”
Continuing drought conditions have diminished the supply of berries and other natural foods sought by bears, putting them on the prowl for garbage and other human-related munchies. Activity thus far in July appears to support concerns 2014 could prove a particularly busy year for bear problems, possibly rivaling the record year of 2007, Healy said.
Saturday’s arrival of a full moon is likely to bring a spike in incidents, Healy said.
Bryant said The Bear League is getting about 15 calls per day about bears entering homes but that from her perspective, bear activity this summer is roughly at normal levels.
“So far, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” Bryant said.