INCLINE VILLAGE, NV - A lot of people in Incline Village are outraged over how state wildlife officials euthanized a 4-year-old black bear. The Nevada Department of Wildlife says it is certain this is the same bear that caused a nuisance last month and officials had to take action before it hurt someone.
"I would watch him for hours, rolling. It was such a fun thing to watch. I probably watched it for an hour-and-a-half and to see him now dead just kills me," says Walter Simone. He would often see the 4-year-old black bear playing in the forest right outside his house, near Matchless Court. But Walter also saw what happened to the bear when wildlife officials came to the area on Wednesday.
"I saw them chasing the bear behind my house on top of the hill and then they shot him with a tranquilizer gun, dragged him back down to the cul-de-sac and then loaded him up in a vehicle," he says.
When he found out the male bear had been euthanized just hours after that...
"I lost a whole night's sleep," he says.
Most of his neighbors are also upset.
"My heart sank," says Kristen Ferrall, a neighbor. "I was almost in tears about it."
But NDOW says this was a bear that was a threat.
"The bear was walking around showing no fear of human beings, which is a dangerous situation when you have a powerful animal that's showing no fear of human beings," says Chris Healy, spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
And it was a bear NDOW had targeted in the past. Earlier this year, homeowners called authorities to report that bear had gotten into garbage and damaged a home. NDOW set up a trap, but caught a different bear that they let go. But when someone called again on Wednesday saying the bear was causing problems again, officials responded.
"We rousted the bear from a culvert, chased it with a bear dog and instead of the bear running away and going up a tree, which it should, it did not. It stopped and turned and basically was displaying more attitude," says Healy.
But Walter Simone disagrees.
"He never threatened anybody. He may have caused an inconvenience in the way of getting into the garbage and maybe he ripped a little bit off of a home, but what the hell?" says Simone.
NDOW says it has euthanized 94 bears over the last 15 years, but it has also trapped and released about 9 times that amount.