TIJERAS, N.M. (KRQE) - Hot weather brings out the bears as Conservation Officer MikeAhlm was reminded when he responded Tuesday to his 11th bear callin two days in the East Mountains.
He had just finished picking up a bear killed on Interstate 40,and a week earlier was forced to kill an aggressive bearterrorizing a picnic area, according to a news release from the NewMexico Department of Game and Fish.
"There were indications that that bear was being fed by people,and that's usually a death sentence for bears," Ahlm said in therelease. "If I find out you've been feeding bears, I will prosecuteyou."
Anyone who intentionally or unintentionally feeds a bear thatbecomes a nuisance could be fined $500, he added.
Periods of hot, dry weather before the monsoon season can betough for bears, Rick Winslow, large carnivore biologist with thedepartment, said. Most of the bears' spring diet of green grass andforbs is gone, and the acorns, piñons and chokecherrieshaven't ripened.
"It's normal for bears to go through a period when there is alack of food," Winslow said. "This is when you see bears turningover rocks and logs looking for grubs and eating ants or going intotown."
It's also a time when people who visit or live in bear countryneed to be reminded to bring in their bird feeders, lock up theirgarbage and keep pet food inside.
Residents of the East Mountains can learn more about how tosafely coexist with bears at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Monday atthe Vista Grande Community Center in Sandia Park. Ahlm, Winslow andother representatives of the department will be on hand to discussbear behavior, conflicts and strategies to keep bears from becominghabituated to humans.
The department publishes a booklet, "Living with LargePredators," which is available on the department website or by calling (505) 476-8000. The booklet contains importantinformation about bears, cougars and coyotes and how to avoidconflicts with them.
Anyone who sees a bear and considers it a safety threat cancontact local Department of Game and Fish conservation officers orpolice or sheriff's offices. They also can call departmentheadquarters in Santa Fe at (505) 476-8000 or area offices inAlbuquerque, Raton, Roswell and Las Cruces, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Monday through Friday.
The department also offers suggestions about safely coexistingwith 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 or unintentionally 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.
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