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Long Drought, Less Food, More Animal Sightings

Nevada is in its fourth year of severe drought. Reno Public Reno’s Anh Gray reports that officials from the Nevada Department of Wildlife say that’s why they’re receiving more calls about animal sightings.

Fall is the typical time of year when wild animals are looking to put on weight for the coming winter months.

“They’re very determined to find their food because if they don’t get food and they don’t put on fat for the winter; they don’t survive,” says Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Healy says there have been more reported sightings of coyotes and bears in both the backcountry and valley.

“We’ve seen a lot of bears this summer," Healy says. "We’re going to see a lot more this fall as bears increase their search for food, where they just have to gorge as much as 18 to 20 hours a day.”

Healy says the drought has decreased the natural food source for animals causing them to forage near people. Ninety-five percent of all human-bear conflicts are associated with garbage. Making trash inaccessible to animals, Healy says, would help prevent them from becoming dependent on people for food.

Anh is a contributing editor for the KUNR news team and has been with the station since 2014. She is an alumna of the Boston University School of Public Health and Teachers College, Columbia University.