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Bears more active as hibernation nears

Emma Garrard
Nick Brunel / Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune / A black bear breaks into a trash bag outside a home in Incline Village.
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INCLINE VILLAGE – When Ernie Feld of Ernie’s Bakery woke early one morning a few weeks ago to make a delivery to San Francisco, he was surprised to discover his pick-up truck was broken into and pastries were scattered about the Country Club shopping center parking lot near his storefront.

Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Incline Village substation Deputy Erik Frederickson later identified bear prints on the truck’s back bumper.

It seems a bear ripped off one of the latches on Feld’s shell to access the fresh-baked treats.

“He ate all the strudel and the pastry – $320 (worth),” said Feld, who has owned the bakery for 30 years and said he has never had bear problems. “They like the meringue because it’s like honey and bears like honey.”

Some wildlife officials note Feld has been lucky over the years.

“(He) invited the trouble,” said Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Carl Lackey of the baked goods not-so-safely stored. “Now a bear knows if he breaks into a car, there’s food.”

Lackey said he took photos of several open trash cans and bear- proof Dumpsters open around other businesses near the bakery on Saturday.

“There’s a history of bears in the area,” Lackey said. “They have bear-proof dumpsters but they are rarely locked.

“Bear-proof dumpsters aren’t doing any good when they’re not locked.”

Lackey said he also received a call when a bear broke into an outdoor refrigerator outside Le Bistro restaurant just a few doors down from the bakery.

“You just can’t (have an outdoor refrigerator) when you live in the forest,” Lackey said.

Bears try to eat as much as they can this time of year to increase their caloric intake before winter, Lackey said. They will remain active in the area as long as there’s food.

Incline Village Substation Lt. Cmdr. Steve Kelly noted the sheriff’s substation has has an increased volume of bear calls recently.

“It appears we are averaging one bear a day for the last week,” Kelly said. “When I was a deputy in 1986, we would go a whole year without getting a call.”

The substation received two phone calls about bears on Saturday, Frederickson said.

A bear was killed by a motorist and left on the side of Mount Rose Highway near the summit. Another call came in concerning a bear knocking over trash cans at Ski Beach prior to the start of the Xterra Nevada Triathlon.

Frederickson said he has also heard of more bears breaking into houses.

“They’re doing more damage than I remember in the past,” Frederickson said. “Going into occupied houses, tearing off screens to get in windows and ripping the siding off of houses.

“(I think) they are getting (too) used to being around people.”


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