The season opened Aug. 20, with 41 hunters receiving tags. State wildlife commissioners set a limit of 20 bears, with no more than six females.
The season will close when either threshold is met or on Dec. 31, whichever comes first.
The 13 kills were “higher than we really thought it would be,” Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said.
All but two of the bruins have been killed on the east side of U.S. 395 in the Pine Nut and Sweetwater mountains south and east of Gardnerville and in the Pine Grove Hills in Lyon County.
None have been killed in the Lake Tahoe Basin, where opposition to the hunt was strongest.
Healy said none of the bears had been tagged as having previous run-ins with humans, such as raiding garbage or breaking into homes in search of food.
“They were all wild bears,” he said.
When the Wildlife Commission considered establishing the first bear hunt in Nevada history, some members said it could help reduce the problem of nuisance bears.
But Mother Nature this year provided a good water year that helped sustain berries and other bear fodder. Given natural food sources, bears — unless accustomed to trash — are more apt to avoid urban foraging and conflicts with people.
“We’ve had a very slow nuisance bear year, and when the data is crunched, we’ll probably have one of the slowest nuisance bear years in the past decade,” Healy said.
That’s in stark contrast to 2007, when Nevada wildlife biologists responded to about 1,500 problem calls. That year saw hot temperatures and drought conditions. Bears were also displaced by the Angora Fire that burned 3,000 acres and destroyed 250 homes on Tahoe’s west side.
“This year there seems to be plenty of natural food,” Healy said. “If there wasn’t the bears would be letting us know.”
A legislative panel last month approved making the bear hunt a permanent event, the same as hunting other species such as deer and elk.
The Wildlife Commission each year will set dates for bear hunting season and quotas on the number that can be killed.