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Conflicts between bears, humans climb

LAKE TAHOE – Incidents of bear/human interactions are on the rise in Lake Tahoe, according to two separate state wildlife agencies.

In 2010, 29 bears were killed in western Nevada, a number that is “a little on the high side,” said Carl Lackey, biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“On average, about 23 bears are killed a year,” Lackey said. “This is definitely the highest we’ve seen in a while.”



The number represents all documented bear deaths, including agency kills, depredation permits and care accidents, according to Lackey.

“Bears are becoming more of a nuisance and they are getting smarter,” he said. “They are changing locations and seem to be more aware.”




Lackey praised Incline Village for incorporating bear-safe trash receptacles and generally increasing awareness of methods to prevent bear incursions in homes, but added it takes only a handful of people to make attractants available, thereby enticing bruins out of the wilderness.

“You’ll always get bears that will investigate neighborhoods,” Lackey said. “As long as they don’t get a food reward, they’ll resort to natural food sources. However, if they get food in neighborhoods, the problems persist.”

A total of 44 depredation permits were issued on the California side of Lake Tahoe – 22 each in Placer County and El Dorado County respectively, according to Christen Langner, wildlife biologist with California Department of Fish and Game.

Three bears were killed in Placer County and eight in El Dorado County, Langner said.

The number of permits taken in each county far exceeds previous years.

“There is a clear increase in bear incidents,” Langner said. “We’ve also seen a large number of bears break into houses while there are people in the house, which may account for the increase in permits.”

Langner said the amount of permits does not encompass the amount of calls the Fish and Game has received.

“This only accounts for the people who want to take out a depredation permit,” she said.

According to a recent population analysis conducted by Fish and Game, the black bear population has nearly doubled in the last 10-15 years, Langner said.

“Bears that used to have one or two cubs, are now having three or four cubs due to the amount of energy available in the region,” Langner said. “They are teaching the cubs how to break into houses.

“We are reaching a point of critical mass,” she said. “Sooner or later the situation will come to a head.”

Langner also noted that hibernation season is a couple months away, and more reported incidents will likely ensue in the intervening period.


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