Tahoe bear trap violators appealing convictions

INCLINE VILLAGE — A Reno woman intends to appeal her 30-day jail sentence for tampering with a bear trap after she and her mother became the first people prosecuted in Nevada for interfering with the capture of troublesome bears at Lake Tahoe.

Season Morrison and her mother, Cheryl Morrison, 63, of Truckee, California, admitted they deliberately tripped a culvert bear trap state wildlife officials set last fall on the lake’s north shore at Incline Village. They maintained the trap had been set illegally.

Incline Village lawyer Bradley Paul Elley said he’s appealing the case on behalf of the Morrisons but declined to elaborate.

“Obviously I and my clients are upset with the decision and that’s why I’m appealing,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The women were charged after a motion-activated camera captured them tampering with the trap in October 2013. After a daylong hearing in April, they were convicted May 19 of interfering with a wildlife officer and tampering with a motor vehicle.

Washoe County Justice of the Peace E. Alan Tiras ordered both on Oct. 13 to complete community service and pay $1,000 fines, and sentenced Season Morrison to 30 days in jail.

Prosecutors cited a “pattern of behavior” in asking for Season Morrison’s incarceration.

“Hopefully it will dissuade people from taking matters into their own hands,” Deputy District Attorney Amos Stege told the Gazette-Journal. “We don’t want anyone to be hurt.”

Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said tampering with bear traps not only threatens public safety but also “makes the job of keeping our bears alive and wild more difficult.”

“It is essential that NDOW be allowed to trap conflict bears without interference,” he said.

Some wildlife advocates argue state officials are too quick to trap and sometimes kill bears in the urban interface around Lake Tahoe.

Conflicts at Tahoe and around Reno are up this year due in part to lingering drought that has bears moving into populated areas in search of scarce food.

Between July 1 and Oct. 1, NDOW officials caught 42 black bears and released all but two back into the wild. They said two repeat offenders had to be killed — one so bold it was rummaging through picnic baskets in July on a busy Tahoe beach. Cars have killed an additional 10 bears.


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