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, MAY 15, 2008:

BLACK BEARS ON THE MOVE AROUND SANTA FE AND COMMUNITIES STATEWIDE

SANTA FE -- The Department of Game and Fish responded to reports of two bears Thursday -- one at Santa Fe High School and another at the New Mexico State Penitentiary.

Officers captured a small female bear at the penitentiary and transported it to The Wildlife Center in Espanola, where it will be given a health exam before it is released. The bear that visited Santa Fe High School ran into a thickly vegetated residential area and could not be located. Department of Game and Fish and City of Santa Fe Animal Control officers were still in the area Thursday afternoon.

Springtime in New Mexico usually means bears are on the move and looking for food in the mountains, foothills and bordering communities throughout New Mexico. Often, young bears away from their mothers for the first time are looking for new territory -- and food.

Residents and visitors in bear country statewide are reminded to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their property, and the bears.

The Department of Game and Fish publishes a booklet, "Living with Large Predators," which is available on the Department website, www.wildlife.state.nm.us , or by calling (505) 476-8000. The booklet contains important information about bears, cougars and coyotes and how to avoid conflicts with them.

If you see a bear and consider it a safety threat, please contact your local Department of Game and Fish conservation officer, police or sheriff's office. You also can call the Department office in Santa Fe at (505) 476-8000, or area offices in Albuquerque, Raton, Roswell and Las Cruces, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Here are some suggestions about safely coexisting with bears:

  • 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. If you intentionally feed a bear and the bear becomes a nuisance, you could be cited and fined up to $500 -- and the bear eventually may have to be killed.
  • Keep your camp clean, and store food and garbage properly at all times. Use bear-proof containers when available. If not, suspend food, 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.
  • Store toiletries with your food.

  • If you see a bear:
    Stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may consider that a threat.
  • Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.
  • If the bear has not seen you, stay calm and slowly move away, making noise so the bear knows you are there.
  • 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 you are on a trail, step off on the downhill side and slowly move away.
  • 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.