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Hungry Bears Get Desperate in Sierra Nevada

9 captured in 2 days
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2014 9:10 AM CDT
Hungry Bears Get Desperate in Sierra Nevada
A black bear captured in Carson City sits in a trap outside the Nevada Department of Wildlife headquarters in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 2, 2014, awaiting its release back to the wild.   (AP Photo/Nevada Department of Wildlife via The Reno Gazette-Journal)

(Newser) – If you live near the Sierra Nevada, your chance of running into a bear has apparently spiked: Nine have been captured in the area over the last two days, while another was killed by a car. In the fall months, bears can eat up to 25,000 calories a day—equal to 83 McDonald's cheeseburgers, the AP reports—as they prep for hibernation. But as drought takes a toll for the third consecutive year, drying up streams and reducing berry supplies, many of the animals are braving close run-ins with humans to get their fill.

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In fact, one of 42 bears captured since July was bold enough to paw through a picnic basket on a busy beach on Lake Tahoe. Some 97 bears were captured last year; the count was 83 in 2012. Nearly all captured bears are returned to the wild. Of this year's 42, two "repeat offenders," including the beachgoer, have been put down. "This bear activity is totally predictable because the bears are hungry, we are in an extended drought, and the bears are searching far and wide for food in order to fatten up for winter," a rep for the Nevada Department of Wildlife adds, per USA Today. (Read more Sierra Nevada stories.)

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