To bear or not to bear: Ursine visitor takes in dinner and a show at Shakespeare festival |

To bear or not to bear: Ursine visitor takes in dinner and a show at Shakespeare festival

Jack Carrerow
A bear entered Sand Harbor State Park earlier this summer, causing a disturbance among the crowds of beach-goers. Last week a bear - perhaps the same one - appeared at the Shakespeare Festival.

INCLINE VILLAGE – Not to be outdone by his South Shore cousin who entered the MontBleu Casino looking for a little gaming action, a local bruin last week sought more refined pursuits as he entered the deserted food court at the Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor and helped himself to salmon, tri-tip and cherry ice cream.

Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Carl Lackey was called to the scene and left one of his bear traps, but as of press time, the bear had not been captured and Lackey wasn’t real hopeful.

“I put old donuts in the trap and he just seems to walk by it and head for the refrigerators in the food court,” Lackey said. “I mean, why eat day-old donuts when you can get salmon?”

Lackey said that while the food vendors have locks on the coolers, “They’re just bike locks and the bears are strong enough to just flick them off.”

Sand Harbor superintendent Jay Howard said the bear problem in the park is much more prevalent this year than it has been in the past.

“We occasionally have bears come down to the beach, but last week, it was a nightly occurrence,” Howard said. “With this happening, it’s caused us to re-think our bear situation and we’ve applied for a grant so that we can equip the park with bear-proof trash cans and Dumpsters.”

Catherine Atack, director of the summer festival showcasing the Bard’s works, said that a dining bear is something they’ve not had to deal with in the past.

“Nothing like this has happened before and this year, all four of our food vendors have been hit,” Atack said. “We even had one bear appear during the show and when the audience was told to stay seated until he was chased away – the audience applauded.”

While surf and turf seems to be on the epicurean bear’s menu, he is slightly more discriminating when it comes to dessert.

“He broke into one of the refrigerators where there was cherry ice cream and vanilla,” Atack said. “He ate the cherry and never touched the vanilla.”

Atack said that there are no plans to change the way food is handled, even in the midst of unwanted guests.

“We give them guidelines to follow and tell them that this being a forest, it might have an occasional bear,” Atack said. “So people are warned accordingly and there’s not much else we can do.”

The bear trap remains on site, according to Lackey, “until he decides to go for the donuts, or leaves the area.”

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