ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – All the fires and the drought are creating new concerns that bears could be moving into neighborhoods earlier than usual this year. The wildfires in the state aren’t only forcing residents to leave the area, but wildlife too. “Our large animals are you know, smart enough to move out of the way and get out of the area when there are fires in the area,” said Nick Forman, Carnivore and Small Mammal Program Manager for New Mexico Game and Fish.

The last few years have also been among the driest on record for the Northern Mountains. “With the droughts, you know what really what bears and other large animals are really keying in on are food sources and then water sources too,” said Forman.

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The fires tied with drought conditions mean more bears could be migrating into populated areas looking for food and water. “What we have in our neighborhoods then and in our yards is, we have a constant source of water, we’re always kind of growing things so that can attract them and bring them in,” said Forman.

Just last week a bear was found on a light pole in Edgewood. This could be one of those years where we see bears wander far from home like in 2007 when a bear walked right through the automatic doors and into a Rio Rancho health center. “We get calls pretty regularly throughout the year except for winter when they’re hibernating. So, it’s not unusual,” said Forman. “I’m not sure if we’ve gotten more calls this year or not.”

Where fires may push bears to may be tough to predict. “Bears can move a really long distance,” said Forman. “We’ll definitely expect abnormal movements in these areas where these fires. and you might see bears coming into areas where we haven’t seen before.”

He said people should do what they can to not attract bears to their yard like taking down bird feeders, not leaving pet food outside, and only putting trash outside on trash day. If a bear does wander into the area, stay calm.

“It’s wildlife. don’t approach it. don’t run away. Don’t make any kind of drastic reaction to it,” said Forman. He said normally bears will just pass through a neighborhood. He said if a bear is sticking around and not afraid of humans, then call New Mexico Game and Fish.