NMGF warns of multiple sightings of bears in the area such as on this patio in Santa Fe. Courtesy/NMGF
SANTA FE – Due to multiple sightings of bears, including a sow and cubs, in the foothills of Santa Fe between Canyon Road and Highway 285 in Santa Fe, homeowners are reminded to remove bird feeders, store trash in a secured location and never leave pet food in a space where a bear can access it.
New Mexico Game and Fish Department Director Mike Sloane warns while “some may view this as a unique opportunity to view wildlife; it is very important to follow our guidelines to keep yourself and bears safe”.
The Department strongly urges you to avoid approaching a bear or getting between the mother and her cubs. Conservation Officer Manny Overby said, “Approaching wildlife is dangerous and getting into the personal space of any wild animal is a bad idea.”
“The state has experienced less than average precipitation for this time of the year, which means that bears may be in search of other food sources,” Sloane said. “Droughts historically have led to a lot of bear conflicts in urban areas, not only in Santa Fe, but across the state,” he continued.
Due to the recent increased bear activity, the public should be even more diligent about paying attention to their surroundings when living in bear country.
The Department offers the following suggestions if you reside in, or recreate in, areas where bears may be present:
- Never feed or approach bears. Feeding bears (intentionally or unintentionally) trains them to approach homes and people for more food.
- Secure food, garbage and recycling. Food and food odors attract bears so don’t reward them with easily available food or garbage.
- Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birdseed and other grains have a high caloric content, making them very attractive to bears. The best way to avoid conflicts with bears is to remove feeders.
- Never leave pet food outside. Feed outdoor pets portion sizes that will be completely eaten during each meal and then remove leftover food and food bowls. Securely store these foods so nothing is available to bears.
- Clean and store grills. After you use an outdoor grill, clean it thoroughly and make sure that all grease and fat is removed. Store cleaned grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.
- Let neighbors know. Share news with your friends and neighbors about recent bear activity and how to avoid conflicts.
If you encounter a bear:
- 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 are experiencing a persistent problem with bears, contact the Department or your local law enforcement for immediate assistance. Visit the Department’s website to find contact information.
For more information about living with bears in New Mexico, consult Keeping Bears Alive and Yourself Safe.