Living with Bears


The Nevada Department of Wildlife is a proud member of BearWise®, a program of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.

Black bears have been in Nevada long before we lived here, but by the early 1900s they had been extirpated from the state. Conservation efforts and habitat regeneration allowed black bears to begin coming back into Nevada and reinhabit their old stomping grounds. Since the 1980s we have watched Nevada’s bear population in the western part of the state increase dramatically.  It is now up to Nevada’s residents and visitors to live and recreate responsibly in bear country!

We understand that bears rummaging through garbage or eating apples in backyards may be perceived as a concern and possibly frightening, however, it is your responsibility while living or recreating in bear habitat to remove these attractants before further steps are taken by NDOW. Don’t wait until it’s too late: remove attractants BEFORE you have a bear encounter.  By allowing a bear access to your trash, even just once, you are rewarding that behavior and it will revisit your home. Bears may become too comfortable around people or dependent on these unsecured attractants as a food source, which oftentimes leads them into conflict with people. They may sometimes get to the point where they are a public safety risk and have to be killed to avoid a dangerous encounter. This is not fair to the bear. Living in bear country is unique and requires residents to take extra precautions. It is also a year-round responsibility!

We are happy to help you become responsible stewards of bear country.  We have worked very hard to make it as easy to find the resources available to you!  Below are different deterrent options or recommendations we have for you.

To fully understand the impacts unsecured attractants can have on our wildlife, read the following heartbreaking account from our biologist of her search for two cubs after their mother bear was hit and killed by a car.

Garbage Security
Noise Deterrents
Bird Feeding
  • Tips:
    • Try flowers instead– Flowers Consider replacing your bird feeder with flower baskets.  This will feed the beautiful humming birds, but not the bears!
    • Spread bird seed– Rather than hanging a container full of seed, consider spreading seed widely across your yard in the morning. This allows the birds to clean up any seeds by the evening and will not allow a concentration of calories for a bear to take advantage of. Bears are not going to spend time picking up individual seeds spread over a wide area.
  • Bear-resistant Feeder
  • BearWise: Removing Bird Feeders
Protect Personal Property
  • Home security- Lock windows and doors. Bears in western Nevada have learned that screen doors and screened windows are easily entered.  Bears also learn how to open doorknobs and latches.  While we don’t recommend you feel like a prisoner in your own home, we do advise that residents close and lock windows that may be accessible by bears from the ground or a deck and lock doors, especially at night or when residents are not at home.
  • Vehicle Security- Make sure to keep all food out of your vehicle, do not store trash in your vehicle, and clean your vehicle after a long road trip that may have involved eating in the vehicle.  Locking a car door is not enough as bears are able to peel open car doors to get inside, keeping your vehicle unlocked may save your door, but not a bear entering your vehicle and tearing it apart.  There is also the potential of a door to close behind a bear and lock it inside the vehicle. A small amount of crumbs on our part could be thousands of dollars in damage to your vehicle.
  • Clean your grills
  • Other Information on protecting your personal property

If you have any questions, concerns, or need any clarification on these options, please feel free to call NDOW, your bear experts, on our hotline and we can help you find an answer:  775-688-BEAR (2327). 



If you live in the Tahoe Basin and want to learn more about keeping Tahoe bears wild, visit our interagency bear website

Do Your Part: Keep Tahoe Bears Wild

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