Black Bear. Courtesy/turpentinecreek.org
Bears hibernate not because of the cold but because there is a lack of food during the winter months.
To get the 20,000 calories a day while fattening up before hibernation, a bear would need to eat about 200 ounces of acorns, 78 pounds of blueberries, nearly 25,000 tent caterpillars or 25 cups of birdfeeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds.
Bears are not out to cause problems. Black bears are very smart and will do their best to take advantage of all the easy-to-get-at calories we make available such as accessible garbage, bird feeders, small livestock, pet food, barbeque grills, and living in bear country, it is up to humans to make good choices that protect both humans and bears.
By making the following recommendations a part of your daily life you can keep bears alive and yourself safe.
Garbage: Store it in closed, sturdy cans kept inside a secure garage. Do not put out garbage the night before a scheduled pickup. Also, keep your garbage bins clean. You can purchase a bear tough roll cart from Environmental Services for a one-time fee of $77. You can register for one at losalamosnm.us/gogreen.
Pet Food: Feed pets indoors. Store food in secure metal cans inside a sturdy shed or garage. Make sure the garage door is closed at night.
Bird Feeders: Set out only enough bird seed to last throughout the day. Hummingbird feeders must be brought inside at night. Hang bird feeders from trees, not on the porch or from the house rafters.
Fruit tress: Plant fruit trees away from your house. Fruit should be picked as it ripens. Spoiled fruit that falls to the ground should be removed, because it will attract bears.
Woodpiles: Keep woodpiles away from the house. It attracts rodents, which bears eat.
Compost piles: Keep piles away from the house.
Beehives and chicken pens: Livestock and beehives should be kept away from your house. Protect them with electric fencing.
Barbecues: Clean after each use, and store in a closed sturdy shed or garage.
Watching a bear can be an awe-inspiring experience, but watching a bear nose around your home, play in your hot tub or amble across your deck could be a death sentence for the bear. By doing nothing, you show bears that people are harmless and it is okay to check out our homes and communities to see what is on the menu. Please do your part to help keep bears wild. Lock up all your attractants. If a black bear does come around your home, yell, clap your hands and convince it that people places are no fun.
Your safety and the welfare of bear populations is important to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. For more information, visit www.wildlife.nm.us.