Nevada DOW Supports CA DFG Bear Policies

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The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) supports California's Department of Fish and Game in discouraging supplemental food drops for black bears into the back country around Lake Tahoe.

Recent media reports show concerned citizens providing food in an attempt to re-acclimate bears to forage in the forest. "We certainly respect people's intentions," said Russ Mason, Game Division Chief at NDOW, "but biologists and managers from all involved agencies in this situation agree that feeding bears is contrary to the goal of keeping bears wild."

Although it may seem humane and logical to feed hungry Sierra black bears in the wild, it is in reality misplaced kindness. "Unnatural food supplementation actually has adverse effects on wildlife," said Mason. NDOW presents these four major reasons why:

  • 1.Bears associate unnatural food with humans by smell and/or food type. This makes it more rather than less likely that bears will seek out human foods in the future, worsening the problems our area has seen with bears invading homes, crossing roads, and roaming neighborhoods.
  • 2.Potential for disease transmission is greater when animals congregate at unnatural food sources.
  • 3.Territorial and isolated by nature, bears which are brought together at an unnatural food source will be instinctively confrontational. Cubs are particularly vulnerable in these unsafe situations.
  • 4.Supplemental feeding adversely affects bears natural cycles of reproduction and hibernation. Bears rely on cues from their surroundings to dictate their activities. They exhibit delayed implantation, a biological strategy wherein embryos do not immediately implant in the uterus, but are maintained in a state of dormancy. This strategy allows for reproduction when favorable metabolic or environmental conditions occur (such as available food and appropriate weather). Supplemental feeding plays a major role in implantation and the number of cubs produced. Artificial enhancement of available food could lead to unsupportable cub populations in the wild, and exacerbate our urban bear problem. Supplemental feeding can also delay, or in some cases, altogether forestall natural hibernation cycles. Wildlife agencies do not support intentional or unintentional feeding of bears, and some states, such as Alaska, have laws against it. In the Tahoe area, biologists from the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the California Department of Fish and Game, and NDOW agree that it is best to let animals stay wild and adapt to changing environmental conditions as they have been doing for millennia.

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