Ursine expert warns area bears wake up hungry after long winter's nap

INCLINE VILLAGE - The bears are back, having spent the past few months sleeping off the winter and hungrier than ever, according to Nevada Division of Wildlife Biologist and bear expert Carl Lackey.

"Most of the bears have been hibernating, living off their body fat," Lackey said. "Now, they're hungry and looking for food."

Lackey said that the bear problem has already reared its fury head recently in Topaz.

"There was a resident down there that discovered one in his kitchen. That's pretty bold for a bear," Lackey said.

It's that same boldness, according to Lackey, that generally leads to a bear's downfall.

"Unfortunately, you can't relocate a bear like that. They've lost their fear of humans and we have to draw the line somewhere," Lackey said.

Lackey said not all of the local bruin population feel inclined to nap.

"There are a few cases where a bear, especially a mother and cub, will continue to forage for food through the winter," Lackey said.

"That's because food sources are still available."

Snow doesn't seem to deter some bears from their daily rounds either, according to Lackey.

"We had a report of a bear out in about 3 feet of snow," Lackey said.

"The bad ones are the bears that never hibernate. Unfortunately, it's because of human encroachment that the bear's body clock and habits have changed. There's almost always food so there's no reason to hibernate."

According to Lackey, this is the time of year when people have to re-acquaint themselves with the problems inherent when living around bears.

"Over the winter people tend to become lax about leaving food sources around. There's not much of a bear problem at that time of year and we get out of practice," Lackey said.

Asked what people should do to avoid early morning risers and late-night snackers, Lackey said, "The best thing is still the bear-proof trash containers. There's no taking garbage cans out or bringing them in at the right time. They just stay out and the bears can't get in."

Lackey said the early risers are the males, "The females and cubs are more prevalent in April."

Last year, the Lake Tahoe Basin made national news on several occasions because of the antics of the local bears and one Stateline resident who allegedly decided to entertain his dinner guests by inviting bears into his yard with a few strategically placed snacks.

Because of that and other incidents, state representatives have said that they will take a close look at drafting legislation that will prohibit the feeding of wildlife, much like the bill passed in California a few years back.


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