Be ‘bear aware,’ even in the winter
The Department of Wildlife reminds us that bears don’t necessarily hibernate all winter. They may wake up during a warm spell and go out hunting for a “snack.” So, be “bear aware” year-round and bring your bird feeders in at night and keep your trash cans locked up.
Call the NDOW’s bear hotline – 775-688-2327 – “when you have a human-bear conflict that has not been successfully remedied by removal of all human food attractants.” NDOW has a successful behavior modification program which teaches bears to avoid humans. For more information, read NDOW’s Bear Logic post here. Or see this video on NDOW’s Facebook page.
This post was written for Somersett by Jessica Heitt, Urban Wildlife Coordinator at the Nevada Department of Wildlife
Black bears wander into Somersett on occasion, usually on the hunt for food. Black bears are omnivorous, with roughly 85% of their diet being plants. They have an incredible sense of smell, with the ability to smell food from up to 10 miles away.
To prepare for hibernation in the fall, bears go through hyperphagia, a state in which their full-time job is to eat and get as fat as possible. During this time a bear can eat up to 20,000 calories a day, which is the equivalent of 66 cheeseburgers!
After bears have obtained an adequate fat layer, they will find a den for winter. Many factors trigger hibernation, including daylight, food availability, and weather. On the other hand, if food is available or the winter is mild, they may not hibernate at all.
Concerns we see with black bears in urban areas come from them accessing human sources of food such as garbage, fruit trees or bird feeders. To prevent these issues, pick ripened fruit as soon as possible, bring bird feeders inside at night, and make sure that your vehicles are locked and the windows are completely rolled up at night.
If you should find a bear in your yard, scare it off by banging pots and pans, or shouting. Report sightings to our bear hotline at 775-688-2327. While hiking, make lots of noise so as to not surprise a bear. If you see one, appear as large as possible, attempt to scare it away, and back away slowly, do not run. Bears can reach running speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
With its open spaces, mountain views and proximity to wilderness, Somersett provides a beautiful place to live, for humans and wildlife alike. Enjoy the experience you have with these animals, and remember that a little preparation can go a long way in preventing conflicts.