New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (888) 248-6866
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JULY 7, 2015:
BEAR BITES RATON GIRL SLEEPING IN TENT
RATON – Department of Game and Fish officers Tuesday were trying to catch a bear that bit a teenage girl while she was sleeping in a tent early Monday morning in a neighborhood yard just outside Raton.
The girl sustained minor wounds to her arm and ear when the bear apparently nipped at her through the wall of her tent. She was treated and released at a Raton hospital.
The homeowner, awakened at about 3 a.m. by something rustling through trash bags, told officers that he scared the bear away from the girl’s tent with a shot in the air from his handgun. When the bear returned later, he said he fired another below the bear, which turned and walked away. He described the bear as a juvenile or yearling.
Investigating officers were called to the scene at 8:45 a.m. By that time, a heavy rainstorm had washed away any tracks and scent that might have helped identify and find the bear. Officers set a culvert live trap in case the bear returns.
The girl who was bitten apparently was among several people who were attending a family gathering in the semi-rural area just northeast of Raton. She and others were sleeping in tents in the yard outside the house.
Here are some ways to protect yourself if you live in or visit bear country:
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.
If you live or camp 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.
- Never intentionally feed bears to attract them for viewing.
- 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.