Halloween Warnings Brewin’ in Bear Country

Officials in parts of western Nevada are warning youngsters planning house-to-house evening excursions in pursuit of sweets and goodies to be on the lookout for lone, burly trick-or-treaters outfitted in furry black costumes.21037

That’s because the number of black bear sightings and conflicts with humans have skyrocketed in the area stretching from Carson City to Lake Tahoe during the summer and early fall--mostly due to forest fires and drought conditions there. The Nevada Department of Wildlife reports some 80 bruins have been trapped in the region in recent months, and eight problematic bears have been euthanized.

Some Douglas County residents say they won’t encourage trick-or-treaters to come to their homes because of bear activity.

“I usually decorate, but I’m not going to this year,” homeowner Marcy De Rose told the Nevada Appeal after a recent bear sighting. “I’m not going to encourage kids to come here because the smell of candy will attract the bear.”

Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Mezzetta offered bear-country treat-seekers some advice.

“If confronted by a bear, stay with others in a group, do not try to run away,” he said. “You can’t outrun a bear and it may provoke a pursuit. Give the bear a wide berth as you seek shelter.”

The folks in western Nevada could learn a lesson from the residents of the Hudson Bay community of Churchill, Manitoba—a Canadian town known as the polar bear capital of the world.21012

For more than 25 years, Churchill residents form a Halloween Polar Bear Patrol, so youngsters may safely collect treats on Oct. 31.

The special patrol includes a strategic perimeter around the entire town and utilizes manpower from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Parks Canada, local ambulance and fire officials and the Canadian Rangers.

About a dozen fire trucks, ambulances and other vehicles park with their engines idling and spotlights shining. Other vehicles cruise the streets to give children in this town of 1,000 around eight hours to collect bagfuls of treats and goodies.

Richard Romaniuk, district supervisor for Manitoba Conservation, offered his personal recommendation for the youngsters of Churchill.

“I’ve never seen a kid dressed up as a seal—but the message would be don’t dress up as a polar bear or a seal, “ he said.

Sage advice, to be sure.