Black bear enjoys sushi
The Waterwheel restaurant in Stateline attracts a variety of sushi lovers, some of whom don’t pay to eat there.
The restaurant is a common hangout for black bears looking for food, according to the owner and wildlife officials.
Alex Cahia said the bears have been coming two to three times a week for the past two summers, despite efforts to keep trash secure in bear-proof Dumpsters.
“My customers all stand in the window watching the bears eat,” Cahia said. “They don’t harm anybody. We’ve called the sheriff out here even and they still come down.”
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call Thursday night to shoo a bruin away from the restaurant; however, no rubber bullets were shot to deter the bear.
Carl Lackey, a biologist for the Nevada Division of Wildlife, said the restaurant’s landlord is paying extra for bear-proof Dumpsters but is not closing the lids properly.
Lackey said it might be too late to save this bear if it’s already trained to eat from the restaurant’s trash. When a human food source is taken away from bears they often break into nearby houses to find food. If bears cause damage to property or threaten humans or livestock, wildlife officials can kill them.
“If the bear is displaying this behavior by returning to the restaurant it will become a dead bear,” Lackey said. “It’s possible to solve this problem so I just don’t understand the mind-set of these people.”
Lackey said other bears will stop enjoying dinner behind the restaurant if the Dumpster lids are secured.
Starting Oct. 1, any Douglas County residence or business where there are complaints of bears attracted to trash will be issued a warning. If another complaint occurs within two years of the first, the party will be required to secure all garbage within bear-proof Dumpsters. Future complaints will result in $100 citations.
BEAR League officials said they pushed for the ordinance because too many people were luring bears to homes and businesses.
BEAR League member Rita McEwing said she drives past the Waterwheel regularly to check on the Dumpsters and has expressed her concern with the open garbage to the restaurant’s owner.
“They’ve refused to close the lids and now they’ve probably caused this bear’s death,” McEwing said.
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It’s time to secure outdoor loose furniture, decorations and garbage cans because high winds are aimed at Lake Tahoe for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.