New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Public contact, Information Center: (888) 248-6866
Media contact: Karl Moffatt: (505) 476-8007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 29, 2017:
Be bear aware during hot July 4 holidays
SANTA FE – Many people will be headed outdoors for a long holiday this weekend, and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is reminding everyone to be aware of the greater chance of encountering bears and other native wildlife.
Bears have become more active recently as hot weather forces them to work harder and roam farther to find food and water, said Rick Winslow, the department’s bear and cougar biologist.
More young bears also are setting out on their own this summer following three years of good precipitation and high bear reproduction, Winslow said.
Residents of wildland-urban interface areas such as the foothills of Santa Fe and Albuquerque or rural portions of the state also may have a greater chance of encountering bears.
The department offers the following suggestions 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.
- Never leave fruit from trees and bushes to rot on the ground as it is a powerful attractant to bears and other wildlife.
- Remove bird feeders. Bears see them as high calorie 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 6 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, 100 yards is recommended.
- 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.