Bears Not Hibernating

The warm winter means bears are staying awake and not hibernating.

Tom Lotshaw Tahoe Daily Tribune

RENO, NV -- A warning from the Nevada Department of Wildlife: bears this year are not hibernating like they are supposed to and that could create some serious problems.

It's a product of something pretty interesting that happened last Friday. A photographer at the Tahoe Daily Tribune captured a picture of a bear running across a ski slope at Heavenly Mountain Resort. It shows not only are we experiencing spring-like conditions; the bears are, too.

At Dorostkar Park in west Reno Monday, a walk along the river seemed nice for Katy and Julie Morris.

"That's pretty crazy considering they should be hibernating right now," said Katy Morris.

Normally they walk in the Hunter Creek open space, but on Monday there was concern of bears after a picture of a bear out of hibernation surfaced Friday.

"We didn't want to go up the hill because we saw the pictures of the bear in the paper three days this past week and the higher up you go the more chance you are going to encounter one," said Julie Morris.

The bear was seen on a ski-slope at Heavenly. It's about 60 miles from Reno, but it shows bears aren't hibernating this year.

"What it tells us is that these bears have become too acclimated to humans and see them as a source of food," said Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The temperatures are such right now that bears don't fully need to hibernate.

"If this year continues the way it is and natural foods don't get that drink of water that they need, in other words the bear habitat is lacking moisture, then we could have an even bigger nuisance bear year than 2013," said Healy.

That's a problem because the Nevada Department of Wildlife says 2013 was the second worst bear year on record. Back at the walking path, it's just sticking to lower elevations to play it safe.

"There could be a good chance they could hibernate up there," said Katy Morris.

There could be a good chance they're not hibernating at all.


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