Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Bears roam in Aztec, Farmington; So stay safe

  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish releases video about bears.
  • Removing birdhouses at night and keeping the yards clean can minimize the chances of bear encounters.
  • There are an estimated 8,000 bears in New Mexico.

FARMINGTON – The bears come from the forest and have been seen in and around cities.

Cubs were spotted on a neighborhood street near Aztec and wandered through Farmington near McCormick Elementary School.

Animal Control monitored the Farmington bear’s movements west from the school. It was last seen near the La Plata River.

Young bears looking for territory

While these bears roamed near homes, New Mexico Game and Fish received no complaints about bears in San Juan County this year, according to spokeswoman Tristianna Bickford.

This means the bears are unlikely to cause too much trouble when wandering the neighborhoods.

A male bear cub climbs over a fence into the courtyard of a residential building off road 6448 in Kirtland on Monday, May 19, 2014.

Bickford said bears are coming out of their burrows in April or May and young bears are currently exploring uncharted territory.

Wet weather has resulted in fewer bear encounters nationwide, but Bickford still recommends taking steps to deter bears from staying in cities and neighborhoods. She said keep the yards tidy and remove bird feeders – including hummingbird feeders – at night to encourage the bears to keep walking.

“You don’t want to be in town,” she said. “You don’t want to be in town.”

Trash cans should be secured in locked buildings and pet food should not be left outside in areas where bears have been seen. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish also recommends cleaning grills and keeping them in safe locations.

Game and Fish Video discusses the necessities of bears

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish shot a live Facebook video about bears this year.

During the video, bear biologist Rick Winslow said that there are approximately 8,000 bears in New Mexico. He said that during wet years, female bears – or sows – tend to have more cubs, so the population increases. Sows usually have two to three young and breed every two years.

Winslow said bears are looking for habitats with food, water, and cover. He said the bears don’t usually live in the pinon and juniper forests, but they do visit the pinon and juniper areas when there are berries and nuts on the trees.

“Juniper berries are a very important food source for bears all over New Mexico,” he said.

A young bear was taken away from a residential area in Kirtland in May 2014 after being stunned.

According to Winslow, bears prefer mountainous, forested areas.

During the year, the bears’ diet changes. Winslow stated in the spring that bears will eat whatever is available, including green grass, herbs like plantain and dandelions, insects, and carrion.

When summer comes, the diet changes and bears begin to eat more fruits and nuts like acorns, pinon nuts, and juniper berries.

What to know about black bears

The only bears in New Mexico are black bears, so you don’t have to worry about encountering an angry grizzly. However, local residents should take precautions around black bears, especially mothers with cubs.

Bear cubs are usually born in the den in winter and spend more than a year with their mother, Winslow said during the video.

Black bears come in many colors, including black, cinnamon, and brown. The adult bears weigh between 125 and 600 pounds.

A young bear is pictured in Kirtland in May 2014.

According to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, black bears tend to avoid people unless they get used to eating from trash cans.

“Bears that get used to human food will continue to seek human food when the going gets tough,” Winslow said in the video.

He said that these bears almost always end up being euthanized.

MORE:Cory Styron led the opening of The Beach on Lake Farmington. Now he’s leaving town.

What to do when a black bear attacks

If you see a bear, the Game and Fish Department recommends staying calm and not running. Stand up straight, wave your arms, and slowly back away from the bear, the department says.

Humans should never walk between a mother bear and her cubs.

If the bear attacks, the Game and Fish Department says people should fight back aggressively.

Bear repellant, a can of mostly strong pepper spray, is available in many sports stores. Its holster can usually be attached to a belt or backpack for quick use in the event of an encounter with enemy bears.

Hannah Grover reports on the Daily Times government. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or by email at [email protected]

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A male bear cub sits under a tree in the courtyard of a residential building off road 6448 in Kirtland on Monday, May 19, 2014.

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