Waterfall fire drives bears into capital | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Waterfall fire drives bears into capital

Robyn Moormeister

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune file / Bears have been seen wandering in Carson City.

CARSON CITY – At least a dozen people have spotted black bears in the capital city’s west side within the last three days and wildlife officials said the number of sightings will increase over the next few months.

Timberline resident Larry Coleman was getting ready for work Tuesday morning when he saw a female black bear and two cubs near his retaining wall.

“She was just sitting there with her cubs right next to her,” he said. “I don’t leave my trash out overnight so they weren’t after anything.”

He didn’t call police with his sighting because the bears weren’t a threat, but 12 other residents in the area have called Carson City dispatch since Monday with reports of bears.

“We’ve had bears up trees, bears in back yards, in garages and going through the garbage,” Nevada Department of Wildlife Public Information Officer Chris Healy said. “There has been a constant stream, and it’s starting to increase.”

Another Timberline resident, John Lapham, woke up to a 150-pound bear rooting through dishes on his kitchen counter at 11 p.m. Aug. 12. It had entered through an open kitchen window.

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“I turned on the light, and we both just stared at each other for a few seconds,” Lapham said.

The bear scrambled out the window, but circled around to the back yard while Lapham was on his phone to police.

“He was after the grease trap on my barbecue,” Lapham said.

Now Lapham sleeps with his windows closed, and he keeps anything attractive to bears inside.

The bears were displaced when the Waterfall fire burned away their habitat, Healy said, and while they’re sighted more than usual, they’ll be out in droves this fall getting ready for harsh winter conditions.

“Right now, they’re eating only about 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day,” Healy said, “but in mid- to late-September they’ll be up to 25,000 or 30,000 per day.”

Residents, especially those living in the urban interface area in west Carson City, need to ensure the bears don’t get their calories from pet food and trash.

“Don’t feed your pets outside,” Healy said, “and don’t put out your trash overnight. Bears are mostly nocturnal.”

Healy said spraying ammonia around trash cans and wherever aromatic food like bacon grease is stored can also deter bear intrusions.

Don’t call police or wildlife officials unless a bear is perceived as a threat, Healy said. If it is, let wildlife experts deal with them.

“Let the pros handle it,” Healy said. “We don’t want to have to euthanize a bear, and that can be avoided if people just take a few extra precautionary steps to protect wildlife.”