New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Public contact, Information Center: (888) 248-6866
Media contact: Lance Cherry: (505) 476-8003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 19, 2016:
Bear sought in attack on Valles Caldera marathon runner
JEMEZ – Department of Game and Fish officers are searching for an adult female black bear that attacked a woman Saturday afternoon while she was participating in a marathon event on the Valles Calderas National Preserve near Los Alamos.
According to responding officers, the attack occurred when the victim surprised a mother bear whose cub ran up a nearby tree.
Although the full extent of the victim’s injuries are unknown, initial reports indicate that woman was bit and scratched multiple times and sustained non-life threatening injuries to her upper body, head and neck. Nearby joggers provided immediate assistance until additional help could arrive.
She was airlifted to an Albuquerque area hospital where she is being treated for her injuries.
The department is coordinating with the National Park Service to secure and deter people from entering the area. A response team that specializes in wildlife attacks of this nature has also been assisting.
Once found, the bear will be euthanized and tested for rabies. Although rabies in bears is rare, it is nearly 100 percent fatal in humans if not properly treated.
Here are some ways to protect yourself 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.