A Nevada couple received death threats after they reported a black bear like this one grazing in a field in Calais, Vt., to wildlife officials. The bear was later euthanized.
(Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)
RENO, Nev. - A couple said they received death threats after reporting problems with a black bear that was captured and then euthanized Thursday by Nevada wildlife officials.
Richard and Adrienne Evans said they filed a report with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office on Thursday after receiving numerous threats and harassing messages by telephone and email.
"People have been giving me death threats," Adrienne Evans said. Evans is a teacher at Carson High School in Carson City and a well-known mountain bike racer in the Lake Tahoe area.
The issue arose after the Nevada Department of Wildlife trapped a 263-pound male black bear outside the Evanses' Incline Village home early Thursday morning. The bear, which had been tranquilized by the Department of Wildlife once and captured and released again as recently as October, was euthanized as a threat to public safety later in the day, said department spokesman Chris Healy.
The bear had attempted to break into Adrienne Evans' car twice in recent weeks and on Tuesday night succeeded, causing extensive damage to the vehicle's interior, the couple said. She denied having food inside the vehicle, as alleged by critics. The bear had also walked into an enclosed entryway at the couple's upstairs condominium on several occasions, the couple said.
The bear has slept in a nearby culvert and was being fed nightly by a neighbor, Adrienne Evans said. She said she has photos documenting the activity. Feeding wildlife is illegal, and the Department of Wildlife intends to issue a written warning to the responsible individual, Healy said. Repeated violations could lead to fines.
After the vehicle was damaged Tuesday night, the Evanses decided to contact the Department of Wildlife because they believed officials there have the best expertise to deal with such a situation.
The bear was put down because of its behavior, Healy said. It was the fifth bear to be killed by the Department of Wildlife this summer over public safety concerns.
"The bear was so used to people, it was becoming dangerous," Healy said. "This was unfortunately an example of a bear that had to be euthanized."
"We did the right thing," Adrienne Evans said, adding that she teaches wildlife and conservation values at school. "I love bears. I really do."
The threats started coming Wednesday night after officials installed the trap outside their home, the Evanses said. Threats were phoned to their home and to Richard Evans' construction office. Some of Adrienne Evans' mountain bike racing sponsors were also contacted, they said.
Some said, "You'll be struck dead (and) if that bear dies you will have to leave Incline," Adrienne Evans said. "All these people called and threatened me, and that's definitely inappropriate."
The alleged harassment occurred nearly two months after Bill Devine, a Washoe County Sheriff's sergeant and elected Incline Village official, wrote an "open letter to Tahoe bear advocates" complaining of bullying tactics. He did so after a bear entered his home and a trap set by wildlife officials outside prompted an around-the-clock vigil by bear advocates trying to prevent any bear from being caught.
"It is you who have divided this community," Devine wrote.
Ann Bryant, founder of the citizens group the Bear League, acknowledged at the time that some critics of the Nevada Department of Wildlife organize to keep bears from being trapped. Bryant and others have been highly critical of the department for killing too many of the bears they trap.
Members of her organization are urged to be polite and told not to break any laws, Bryant said.
Still, Bryant said, opinions are intense over the bear issue.
"Emotions are going to be high as long as they are killing bears," Bryant said.