Nevada bears are preparing for hibernation, NDOW and RPD ask residents to secure attractants

The agencies have seen an uptick in calls related to bears throughout Reno
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 12:15 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - From Verdi down through Topaz Lake and over to Hawthorne, bear sightings continue in Western Nevada, a common theme this time of the year.

“We’re getting calls from people noticing bears and Reno Police Department also reached out because they were getting more calls,” said Ashley Sanchez, public information officer at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). “Bears are nearing the end of hyperphagia and that’s a face they go through when they spend all of their time and energy trying to build up calories. They’re trying to take in 20,000 compared to the normal 5,000.”

During this time, bears’ instincts bring them down to the valleys in search of remaining berries, insects, and any source of food to build up those fat reserves.

“They’ll follow a drainage ditch right into a neighborhood,” said Sanchez.

Once that happens, human food resources can easily fall into their reserves. Unsecured garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders and more, can provide these animals with an easy meal.

Michelle Magnuson lives in Corey Drive, where she says bears are usually spotted.

“Our fence on the street side is only four feet tall and that is no problem for the bears to get over and we did have bear droppings in our yard,” she said during a phone interview. “We have several fruit trees from apples to nectarines to pears and typically what we’re noticing is they wait for the pears.”

Magnuson has been living in Reno for over five decades and says she has seen more bears this year than before.

“With wildfires and you know, water is really becoming scarce, I think that this is going to be something that we’re going to have to deal with for many years to come,” said Magnuson.

“In 2007 we had the most calls that we’ve ever had of bear calls and then last year was a very similar number and this year we’re right on track to meet that same level of calls,” said Sanchez. “What’s happening is that it’s been so dry that their natural food sources aren’t available so they’re searching harder for food. "

While most bears in Western Nevada go into hibernation in mid-November, male bears tend to wait until mid-December. Therefore, the NDOW needs everyone to remain vigilant to deter bears from their property.

“95 percent of our calls are trash related so please secure your garbage,” said Sanchez. “If you don’t have a bear-resistant container, keep it in a secure structure overnight and then put it out in the morning for trash pick up. Other things that people could be doing are bringing down their bird feeders, especially at dawn and dusk.”

Be aware: Washoe County has a garbage ordinance in place which requires residents to secure their trash to prevent bears from getting into them. Failure to do so can result in fines. Repeated violations in Incline Village can be reported to the Incline Village General Improvement District at (775) 832-1100.

Washoe County Waste Management offers bear-resistant garbage cans that can be left out. You can request one by calling (775) 329-8822.

Other steps residents can follow include:

-Remove other attractants from your yard (fruit from fruit trees, pet food, clean dirty barbeques, trash, and all other food/scented items.)

-Remove food, trash, and other scented items from vehicles. Keep vehicle windows up and doors locked when not in use.

-Install electric fencing around beehives, chicken coops, and livestock. For more information click here:

-If you see bears near your home, scare them away: From an open window or safe distance, yell loudly and/or bang pots and pans. Yelling things like “Hey bear!”, “Go bear!”, “Get out of here bear!” alerts those around you to what’s going on. You can also trigger your car alarm to try to scare them off as well. These methods can help “negatively condition” bears to humans and houses and teach them that it is not okay to enter these areas.

If you have a bear in your neighborhood, NDOW recommends figuring out the attractant and if that doesn’t work, call 775-688-BEAR. While the agency wants residents to be on the lookout, they don’t people abusing these animals.

“We can all help by securing attractants and that way it tells them, food is no longer available, it’s time for me to go into my den,” said Sanchez.

If you have a fruit tree, the Reno Gleaning project, can pick your fruit up and give it to local groups that feed people, at no charge.