Bear sightings at the UNR campus in the past week follow a trend across the United States. Bears are looking for food and are looking in our direction. A record number of bear sightings occurred in 2007. Parts of the United States have been in a drought for the past decade, and bears are having a harder time finding food. The bears’ natural environment is shrinking due to suburban neighborhoods edging closer to forests, leaving bears with fewer places to find food. This has led to more frequent bear sightings and attacks, but there are several things to do to keep it to a minimum and keep bears out of the neighborhood.
1. Seal up that trash. Bears have an amazing sense of smell and a better sense of navigation than humans do. Trash is their main attraction.
2. Clean your barbecue. A barbecue with the remains of meat and grease from that get-together you had last weekend will attract bears.
3. Keep pet food sealed and inside. Pet food left outside is a common attraction to bears.
4. Lose the bird feeder. Bears love birdseed and will keep coming back if it remains a consistent source of food.
If you see a bear, chances are that it will be frightened of you, but here are a few things to remember if you see a bear in your neighborhood:
1. Don’t make eye contact. Eye contact is seen as a threatening challenge to bears. Look as passive as possible.
2. Don’t run. Running can also equate a threat, and bears can run up to 30 miles an hour. Walk passively to the nearest building, and lock the door.
3. Keep away from cubs. The majority of bear attacks come from mother brown bears protecting their cubs from a perceived threat.
Bears want to stay in the wild and will only come into neighborhoods in cases of extreme hunger. A bear only becomes dangerous if it considers humans as a food source. As new suburbs encroach on wild forest areas, you can expect human/bear interactions to be the new black. But if you remember these few steps, then you can keep the bears in the forests and out of your neighborhood.