500-pound bear caught at Zephyr Cove
Fred Cobb of Kansas City had never seen a bear in the wild before Saturday in the Zephyr Cove campground.
“Just in zoos,” he said, staring at a 500-pound black bear laying tranquilized on a Nevada Department of Wildlife trailer.
“And if I ever saw one in the woods, he wouldn’t see me for very long.”
The 10-year-old bear, known as Green 72 because of the tag in his ear, was captured at Tramway Market on the top of Kingsbury Grade in June.
“They bear-proofed (Tramway Market) and that’s kind of why he’s down here,” said Carl Lackey, wildlife biologist with the Department of Wildlife.
He said the bear would be released in the area.
“We don’t generally euthanize unless they’re being aggressive — which I’ve never seen — or they’re breaking into people’s homes. If he was to break into a home, he’d be a dead bear.”
He was captured in a “culvert” trap with strong-smelling foods and sweets like donuts and cake, said Department of Wildlife employee and Lathrop Scholar Caleb McAdoo of Elko.
“Liquid smoke works really good,” he said.
The Department of Wildlife team will release him in the area then scare him with “aversion” techniques including non-lethal rubber bullets and chasing him away with “Striker,” a Korelian bear dog.
“That helps educate the bear,” McAdoo said. “He associates this with a bad scene.”
People are the problem, he said, not bears.
“If he’s just getting into garbage and stuff, it’s kind of the people’s fault.”
The security manager at the Zephyr Cove campground said when people camp they sometimes leave their brains at home.
“Some people don’t close the lid on the Dumpster when they put their trash in there — others don’t put their trash in the Dumpster at all.”
Brett Lucia, a three-month employee of the Zephyr Cove Resort warehouse, said once the garbage is in a properly sealed, bear-proof Dumpster, it’s secure.
“But they can bend up the Dumpsters pretty good,” he said.
Lackey and his wildlife crew took a non-functional, pre-molar tooth from the bear to be sent to a lab in Montana for testing.
Then they got to work loading him back into the trailer. Six men tugged, shoved and pushed the massive brown animal, struggling to stuff him back into the trap for transport.
“It makes you feel lucky when you get the small ones,” chuckled Misty Johnson, a volunteer from Reno.
They drove the truck into Carson Valley and parked it in the shade for the night. On Sunday the team rolled the trailer over a scale at Bing Materials off Kimmerling in Gardnerville to weigh the bear. After that, the plans were to release him.
“I don’t see him as problem bear — it’s more problem people,” Lackey said. “I saw him the other night and as we approached he took off running the other way. That’s exactly what a bear’s supposed to do.”
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