NDOW reports rare bear sighting in Elko County

ELKO, NEV. — Nevada Department of Wildlife reported an American Black Bear sighting in Elko County near South Fork Reservoir.

NDOW Game Warden Nick Brunson responded to a call from a resident in the area of a report that a bear was in a chicken coop. Bruson confirmed this through the bear’s tracks and hair.

“The dogs chased the animal from the coop and the resident was able to see it more clearly,” said Brunson in a press release.

The next day a bear was seen in Carlin, Nev., which NDOW believes is mostly likely the same bear.

While there have been reports of bears in the Ruby Mountains, there have been no confirmed sightings for several years. Bear sightings have been confirmed in eastern Nevada almost annually over the last decade.

According to NDOW’s biologist, Carl Lackey, bears have roamed throughout the mountain ranges in the interior of Nevada until the early 1900s far south as Lincoln and Nye counties.

“NDOW is not surprised that a bear has found its way into eastern Nevada,” said Lackey in the press release. “Many of the interior mountain ranges in Nevada provide great habitat for American black bears and, although not recently, we have had reports of females with cubs in these areas as well.”

By the early 1900s, bears were eradicated from most of Nevada. The landscape changes from the mining boom of the late 1800’s, unmanaged hunting and livestock conflicts all contributed to the extirpation.

Lackey believes the bear was hibernating in the area over winter. It may have also come down from Idaho in the past year. Black bears can travel considerably far distances. Bears that have been tagged in Lake Tahoe have shown up in Southern Oregon and Southern California. According to NDOW’s research, bears are expanding eastward from the Sierra Nevada.

NDOW encourages people to take preventative measures to discourage wildlife from your property. Items such as Chicken coops, beehives, garbage, bird feeders, fruit trees, fishponds, pet food, camp food, compost piles, barbeque grills are wildlife attractants.

Preventative measures include keep garbage secured; don’t leave pet food outside; and only put out bird feeders during the day. This time of year, bird feeders aren’t necessary as there is plenty of natural forage for birds. Those with chicken coops or beehives in the area that have concerns should install electric fencing around them to discourage wildlife.

“As with any wild animal people should not feed or approach bears. Give them plenty of room and they will generally pass you by,” Lackey said in the release. “If a bear approaches you don’t run. Remain facing the bear and make yourself look bigger by raising your arms and talking firmly. You should back away, keeping the bear in sight. Make noise and show the bear it is unwelcome.”

For more information about living with bears in Nevada go to or for information on Nevada’s wildlife including bears, coyotes and mountain lions.

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