Target: The Nevada Department of Wildlife
Goal: Express extreme disappointment in wildlife wardens for shooting a young black bear.
A three-year-old male black bear was killed in Lake Tahoe after entering the home of a ninety-two-year-old woman who had left her garage door open. A neighbor of the elderly woman disclosed that she had often left garbage in the garage, which bears are attracted to. The young bear had not been handled before by the Nevada Department of Wildlife – which operates on a three-strike rule for ‘nuisance bears.’ It was stated that the bear was not given a second chance because he was ‘a dangerous bear.’ While black bears are capable of harming humans in self defense, the number of attacks on record is small. Black bears have only killed sixty-three people in both Canada and the United States the last 109 years.
Because of our increased interaction with bears – including attempts to hand feed them – and encroachment on their habitat, humans encounter black bears more often than ever. As a result, black bears have become accustomed to human and pet food that may be intentionally provided to them or accidentally accessible through outdoor pet dishes, bird feeders, easily opened trash cans, or open windows and doors. In spring, bears emerge from their dens and follow their noses toward anything edible or scented in search of food, which leads them into human communities. Due to a lack of education, many people do not know how to effectively discourage black bears from lingering around their homes and the bears learn to not fear humans.
People often think they should simply run away from bears, which is a mistake, because the bear will realize that the person is not defending their territory and will likely to return to it. Other times, fearfulness may provoke fear in the bear as well, causing a defensive reaction. Instead of killing every bear encountered too close for comfort in human residences, the Nevada Department of Wildlife should encourage coexistence with these misunderstood animals by employing nonlethal tactics. Enforcing that people use adequate garbage containers cleaned and packed with ammonia – an effective deterrent to bears – would likely suffice.
It is tragic that black bears, who are normally timid, are being punished by death for problems that humans have created for them. The Nevada Department of Wildlife badly handled the encounter with the young bear. He had not received a strike against him before, and was simply looking for food in a house that is apparently not ‘bear informed.’ Sign this petition and demand better tactics for human coexistence with bears.
Dear the Nevada Department of Wildlife,
The wildlife wardens’ decision to shoot a three-year-old black bear who had entered a Lake Tahoe home through an open garage was unnecessary and detrimental the goal of coexistence between humans and wildlife. It was reported that the bear did not have any prior strikes against him, per the three strike policy. Members of the public residing in or visiting Lake Tahoe should be aware that there are black bears inhabiting the area as well. They must be educated by wildlife wardens to take proper precautions to avoid attracting wildlife in their homes.
Should wildlife wardens have to intervene during an emergency, there are non lethal ways of resolving the conflict that could be employed instead of shooting bears to death. Information on black bear behavior is widely available and should be heeded by those enforcing policies to manage wildlife. Research has shown that black bears are not as aggressive as their reputation suggests, hence there is no need to shoot one to death as a preventive measure.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife needs to encourage its wildlife wardens to practice and inform the public of non lethal deterring tactics for the benefit of both wildlife and the public who often enjoys the treat of seeing these iconic animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: yasa_ via Flickr