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New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact:  (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JULY 12, 2013:

DEPARTMENT, CIBOLA NATIONAL FOREST
DO NOT SUPPORT SUPPLEMENTALLY FEEDING BEARS

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Cibola National Forest do not support and are very concerned with a proposal by animal activists to supplementally feed bears.

“People may mean well and think they are doing the right thing by helping bears or other wildlife that may be experiencing a shortage of their natural foods,” said Stewart Liley, big-game program coordinator for the Department. “In reality, the outcome usually is bad for the bears and bad for anyone who lives near those bears.”

“Providing food, even once, can create a number of problems for bears and for people who use the forest for recreation,” said Cid Morgan, district ranger for the Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. “If anyone puts out supplemental food for bears on the Sandia or Mountainair Ranger Districts, they could be subject to a citation.”

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Cibola National Forest have prohibitions in place against leaving food in the forest. Violations are punishable by fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations.

The agencies’ statement is in response to a proposal by the Sandia Bear Watch organization to put out supplemental food for bears because of the ongoing drought. The Department of Game and Fish and the Cibola National Forest fully support the prohibitions in place for several reasons, including:

  • Providing supplemental food to bears teaches bears to associate humans with a ready food source, causing safety issues that often force officials to kill problem bears.
  • Feeding bears would create a false carrying capacity of the habitat, where bears would become increasingly dependent upon artificial food sources to support existing populations.
  • Only dominant bears would benefit from supplemental food “caches.” Younger, nondominant bears would be driven off or killed by dominant bears protecting their food.
  • Hikers, hunters and other visitors to the forest could be in danger if they happened upon a supplemental food cache that may be aggressively defended by bears.
  • Purposefully feeding bears is contrary to State Game Commission rule that prohibits creating an attractive nuisance.

The Department of Game and Fish and the Cibola National Forest encourage everyone who visits or lives in bear country to learn the facts about bears and other wildlife, and how to keep them alive while protecting yourself and your property. For more information, please visit the Department website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us, to download a copy of the pamphlet, “Keeping Bears Alive and You Safe.”

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