The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is the state's largest mammal and the only naturally occurring bear species in Nevada. In fact, the Black Bear is considered common in the ranges in which it lives. Most Nevada bears are concentrated in the Carson Range and the Lake Tahoe Basin, but a few scattered populations have been found over the last decade in the Pine Nut Range, Sweetwater Range, and Wassuk Range in western Nevada and the Jarbidge Mountains in eastern Nevada, populations that most likely migrated from neighboring ranges. Nevadans should be proud. Compared to many states dominated by bears, Nevada's black bear population is considered one of the healthiest ... with an estimated 300 to 400 bears in the Carson Range alone!
Male bears often reach four feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 450 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing 3.5 feet at the shoulder and weighing up to 350 pounds. Being natural foragers, Black Bears eat almost anything, from fruits, nuts, fish, insects to small game. They are excellent hunters when they need to be and adapt quite well with other predators such as Mountain Lions. Although they are beautiful animals, it's their intelligence that is most intriguing. Black bears as we've come to learn, are best known for being highly adaptable, extremely intelligent, tenacious, and greatly adept at problem-solving!
Living with BearsEdit
Unfortunately these same traits that make the Black Bear so unique have also been their downfall in their interactions with humans. Bears often lie at the center of attention where humans intermingle in their habitat becoming particularly habituated to obtaining human food by raiding garbage cans and dumpster bins. When this happens, bears slowly lose their fear of humans and begin to associate humans with easy sources of food. This is very bad news for the bear. Once "addicted" to an easy food source thanks to our careless waste disposal, bears become increasingly difficult to deter. Bear complaints have risen sharply in the past twenty years and bears are often moved or killed to prevent future problems. Homeowners, tourists, campers, and just about everybody walking on two legs can help by removing all human sources of food at all times and locking up said trash using "bear-proof" locks on certified "bear-proof" containers. Nevada's largest mammal has sustained itself for centuries without our help. Let's keep it that way!
Studies of Black BearsEdit
In a cooperative effort to measure Black Bear populations, the California Fish & Game and Nevada Department of Wildlife conducted a series of studies in both states and both agencies found that an average of three bears per square mile were found in the Lake Tahoe Basin alone, the second highest density of black bears in North America. Furthermore, the greatest number of bears were centered well away from human settlements, with the majority of the animals near Rubicon Pass and Washoe Meadows in California and Tunnel Creek, Marlette Lake, Bronco Creek, and around Mount Rose in Nevada. These numbers were quite humbling, having further proved that bears do just fine away from humans, without our help or our messy food practices.