Warning: The video above contains graphic images.
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Pictures and video from New Mexico Department of Game & Fish are shedding light on how a Los Alamos couple survived an attack by a black bear in July. The incident happened near the Pajarito Ski Area leaving one victim with serious injuries.
Game and Fish conservation officers met the victim’s husband at a hospital in Los Alamos hours after the attack on July 17. The man described seeing the bear walk up to them as he and his wife sat on the deck of the Pajarito ski lodge. They say they were trying to view the Neowise comet.
“It was cloudy all day and we sort of really had no chance of seeing it,” the man told conservation officers in body camera video recordings. “We said, ‘let’s go up to the ski hill and see if the clouds break or something, maybe we can see this thing.'”
The man described the bear walking up to him, his wife and their dog as it was starting to get dark. Initially, they tried scaring the bear off.
“We just started screaming, ‘Ahh!”– trying to scare it– ‘Ahh!’ that kind of thing,” the man said. “And it wasn’t doing anything, it wasn’t moving at all.”
The man told Game and Fish conservation officers the couple’s instincts told them to run. In the process of trying to get away, the couple split up and the bear caught up with the woman.
“I looked in the area down at the bottom of the stairs in the parking area and there she was and the bear was on her,” the man said. “All I really remember is like, holy ****, it’s biting her face.”
The man managed to kick the bear off of his wife to stop the first attack. The man told conservation officers the bear attacked his wife two more times as they tried to get to their car to escape.
The man said that the bear eventually ran off. The female victim was rushed to the Los Alamos hospital by her husband. She had serious injuries including a collapsed lung, broken bones, and punctures wounds from the bear biting her. She survived but the bear did not.
Game and Fish conservation officers found and killed the bear on the night of the attack. The agency says the bear was found rummaging through trash bins on the ski lodge’s deck. According to documents obtained by KRQE News 13, DNA tests matched the dispatched bear’s fur with bear fur found at the attack site.
The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish says bears are active in the summer months as they search for food in preparation for winter months. NMDGF provided the following information about what to do in the event of a bear encounter.
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.
NMDGF says 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 four 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.