Incline's Bear Problem Only Getting Worse

bear charging
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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev.- An Incline family got a scare Tuesday morning when they woke up to make breakfast and found a bear in their kitchen.

It's the latest in a series of bear break-ins, and wildlife officials say it's only going to get worse as bears bulk up for winter. Wildlife officials say they want to relocate problem bears, or teach them to be scared of people, but they're being held at the mercy of animal rights groups.

Behind the beautiful views of Incline Village, an ugly problem is growing.

"The problem sounds to me like we have a bear that is not afraid of us," said Loren Jensen, an Incline resident.

Bears are terrorizing residents, not just by eating garbage, but by breaking into homes.

The latest victim lives in a house on Dale Drive. What makes this bear break-in unique: it did not happen during the night; it happened about 8AM while the residents were home.

"It appears the bear was mainly interested in having some food and then leaving the house and going back on its way," said Bob Harmon of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.

"These bears can be very dangerous," said Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Healy says as the bears bulk-up for winter, his department wants to relocate nuisance bears but is running into road blocks.

"We are not going to be able to put a trap up there because we can not get permission from the land-owner and the reason we can not get permission from them is because they are afraid of harassment," said Healy

Standing in the way is the Bear League.

"It's not a bear problem; it is a people problem," said Carolyn Stark with the Bear League. She says the Bear League doesn't make threats, it just suggests non-lethal treatments.

"You can kill a bear, but if the problem is not fixed, another bear is going to come back," said Stark.

Healy argues the Department of Wildlife is there to fix that problem, only being forced to euthanize a bear about 10 percent of the time. He adds, that number could go up if the league keeps the department from doing its jobs right the first time.

Incline's bear problem is due in part to garbage issues. The RGJ reports Incline officials are supposed to decide in September if they should require bear resistant garbage cans. Many areas on the California side of the lake already have similar requirements.