The Reno Gazette-Journal reports the bruin was snagged Wednesday night, but wildlife experts don't know if it's the same bear they were trying to catch.
For one thing, they thought the problem bear they were looking for was a female because of two yearling cubs also reported in the area.
The one that ended up in the trap was a 250-pound male.
"There's enough doubt as to whether this is really the offending bear," Chris Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told the newspaper. "This bear will not be euthanized."
Game wardens set the trap last Saturday after a bear broke into some cars in search of food and ripped up siding on a home. Such aggressive behavior could justify killing the bear as a threat to public safety under state policy, Healy said.
But the trap itself stirred polarized passions in the Lake Tahoe neighborhood. Over the weekend, someone illegally tampered with the trap by spraying it with cleaning fluids to keep bears away. Residents of the homes where the bear went on its food raids were subjected to threatening phone calls.
The trap was cleaned up and baited again. On Wednesday night, a bear got caught.
While the captured bear could still be the one causing problems, the gender surprise introduced enough doubt to rule out killing it, at least this time, Healy said.
The bear will be released into the woods Friday at an undisclosed location once it recovers from its tranquilizer-induced slumber.
The release will involve "aversion" conditioning, designed to make the bear's experience with humans as unpleasant as possible. The bear could be chased with dogs, shot with rubber slugs, frightened with blasts from air horns - all designed to discourage it from mixing with humans and hopefully keep it out of trouble in the future, Healy said.
He also noted that some homeowners in the area were improperly storing trash, which will attract bears. He said he hopes this latest experience will entice people in the region to also change their behavior, for the good of the bears.