New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Public contact, Information Center: (888) 248-6866
Media contact: Karl Moffatt: (505) 476-8007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, APRIL 21, 2016:
Be bear aware when outdoors this spring
SANTA FE – Spring is in the air, and as people and wildlife become more active outdoors the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is encouraging everyone to be aware of the potential of encountering bears and other native wildlife.
Young bears are emerging from hibernation and will be foraging and seeking territory to call their own, said Rick Winslow, the department’s bear and cougar biologist. Sows with cubs will follow later in May. Those living in urban-wildland interface areas such as the foothills around Santa Fe or Albuquerque may have a greater chance of encountering bears, Winslow said.
If a bear exhibits aggressive or strange behavior, people are encouraged to call the department and report it. Bears that appear to be moving through the country should be left alone – no need to report them.
If you visit or live in bear country:
- Keep garbage in airtight containers inside your garage or storage area. Place garbage outside in the morning just before pickup, not the night before. Occasionally clean cans with ammonia or bleach.
- Remove bird feeders. Bears see them as sweet treats, and often they will look for other food sources nearby.
- Never put meat or sweet-smelling food scraps such as melon in your compost pile.
- Don’t leave pet food or food dishes outdoors at night.
- Clean and store outdoor grills after use. Bears can smell sweet barbecue sauce and grease for miles.
- Keep your camp clean, and store food and garbage properly at all times. Use bear-proof containers when available. If not, suspend food, toiletries, coolers and garbage from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet out from the tree trunk.
- Keep your tent and sleeping bag free of all food smells. Store the clothes you wore while cooking or eating with your food.
- Sleep a good distance from your cooking area or food storage site.
- Never intentionally feed bears to attract them for viewing.
If you encounter a bear:
- Stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may consider that a threat. Do not run.
- Make yourself appear large by holding out your jacket. If you have small children, pick them up so they don’t run.
- Give the bear plenty of room to escape, so it doesn’t feel threatened or trapped. If a black bear attacks you, fight back using anything at your disposal, such as rocks, sticks, binoculars or even your bare hands. Aim for the bear’s nose and eyes.
- If the bear has not seen you, stay calm and slowly move away, making noise so the bear knows you are there. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.
- For more information about living with bears in New Mexico please visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us and consult the publication “Living with Large Predators.”