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The biggest little city in the world just got a little bigger, as Reno, Nevada has seen a sharp spike in the number of bear sightings in recent weeks. The Nevada Department of Wildlife has received more than 500 complaints about bear sightings in 2014, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

renoWhile this number pales in comparison to the record setting 1,500 bear sightings in 2007, it shares a common thread. Both spates of bear encroachment seem to be caused by severe drought.

Dry conditions in the mountains have driven bears to lower elevations, and often into human habitats. The Nevada Department of Wildlife has dealt with 70 “conflict” bears this year, with 29 of these bears sighted near Lake Tahoe, nine in Reno and 14 in Carson City, among others. These bears are handled by the Department of Wildlife in a variety of ways, ranging from trapping, to euthanasia, to removal of bears killed by car collisions. 

Carl Lackey, bear biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told the Gazette-Journal that in their search for water, bears follow the Truckee River into Reno, which, “brings them right to downtown Reno… They’re coming down to look elsewhere, which typically means our back yards.” 

The Nevada Department of Wildlife reports that 10 black bears were killed by hunters in the state this year. In California, the Gazette-Journal reports that 1,017 black bears have been hunted in 2014.

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