Nevada Wildlife Biologist Calls it a Record Year for Bear Sightings

From the Department of Wildlife in Reno to the law enforcement agencies throughout the Sierra, telephones have been their busiest ever with people calling in about a common problem - bears.

Wildlife department staff biologist Carl Lackey says it's a record year, not only for the number of bear calls, but for the number of bears that have had to be euthanized as well.

The department's Reno area dispatchers have received an average of 15 to 40 bear calls a day since early June, when dry conditions, lack of natural forage and availability of human foods started bringing black bears into urban areas.

It also has been a record year for bears killed on highways. According to Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR league based at Lake Tahoe, at least 21 bears have been killed by cars this year, surpassing the previous record of 19 set in 2005.

The wildlife department says Tahoe Basin has the second highest density of black bears in North America, with several bears per square mile at times.

Lackey says this year's lack of moisture has dried up streams and reduced the yield of berries and other natural foods, driving them into neighborhoods where garbage is plentiful.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)