The Nevada Department of Wildlife is still investigating the killing of a black bear in the Galena area in South Reno that took place nearly two weeks ago.
Ashley Sanchez, public information officer for NDOW, said law enforcement could not comment on the nature of the incident due to an ongoing investigation.
Residents in the area had posted up fliers about the incident, which identified the man who allegedly shot and killed the bear. Sanchez said NDOW law enforcement was concerned about possible discrepancies in that information. The fliers have since been taken down.
Sanchez said more information will be available after the investigation into the killing is completed. It may take a “month or so” to wrap up, she said.
“I can confirm that there was an incident between a man that was in the Galena area and a bear on that Friday…June 19,” she said. “And the bear in the incident did die, but there’s where I can’t disclose [how it was killed.]…I know that’s very little information, but we are investigating.”
According to the now-removed fliers, the shooting of the bear happened early in the morning on Friday, June 19. Allegedly, the bear was shot with an AR-15 rifle as it was running away from a property near Donnybrook Court.
Neighbors in the area—who did not want to be identified by name—said they’re awaiting more information from NDOW’s investigation. One neighbor said she wants concrete facts because all she has right now is hearsay. She said she wants to know if the alleged shooter will be held accountable for breaking the law if it’s found that he discharged his weapon in the neighborhood—a violation of Nevada Revised Statute 202.280.
Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sarah Johns explained that her agency had initially helped with the investigation but turned it over to NDOW.
She said if the alleged shooting is confirmed, it would be up to NDOW to charge the person with illegally discharging a firearm in public.
Sanchez said, “I can’t confirm whether that happened, but—if it did—that would be a violation.”
“We love our bears, and we’re very upset by this,” a neighbor said.
People who live near the base of the Sierra grow accustomed to living alongside bears and take precautions—things like locking up their trash and cleaning up fruit from trees—in an effort to keep both themselves and the bears safe.
Even for those who might be new to the neighborhood, information is available. Pamphlets posted up on a sign warning about bear activity in the neighborhood provide information from NDOW about living in bear country:
“Nevada’s black bear population is estimated at 200-300 animals. As human presence increases in black bear habitat, confrontations become more frequent. When bears become accustomed to people, bolder behavior results. These bears are referred to as human-habituated, and may become food conditioned bears. At this stage, bears may enter residences seeking human food. Bears frequenting urban areas are often hit by cars. When people feed bears, either intentionally or accidentally, the ultimate result is the death of the bear. Bear sightings in residential areas may be a result of several possible situations:
- Things such as garbage, bird feeders, fruit trees, fish ponds, pet food, camp food, compost piles, barbecue grills or bee hives may attract bears. These are by far the most common reasons for bear/human conflicts.
- Drought conditions or other climatic occurrences may limit the quantity and quality of natural food sources.
- As juvenile bears are dispersed by the mother bear, they cover large distances in search of their own range, and may frequent urban areas looking for food.
- Living in bear country requires that residents take extra precautions and be BEAR AWARE.”
Incidents during which bears have been shot and killed have long happened in Reno, Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas, with both residents and NDOW officials being the ones to pull the trigger.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.