Bear file photo. Courtesy/NMG&F
RATON – New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers are investigating a bear attack that occurred Wednesday southeast of Raton.
State police alerted department officers after receiving a distress call from a 36-year-old man who was out exercising his dogs.
The individual was airlifted to the UNM Hospital due to the severity of the injuries, including a bite to the back of the knee. During the attack the man was able to draw his sidearm and shoot the bear, killing it. The male bear will be tested for rabies.
The department reminds outdoor recreationists to be bear aware. During the summer, bears are active as they look for food sources in preparation for the winter months.
Bears are unpredictable; the department recommends keeping your dogs leashed while outdoors.
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.