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Don’t Let Bears Ruin Your Fourth Of July

Don’t Let Bears Ruin Your Fourth Of July

Hot Weather Forces Bears To Roam Farther For Food And Water

Many people are spending time outdoors during the holiday, and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is reminding everyone to be aware that there’s a greater chance of encountering bears and other native wildlife.

Bears have become more active recently as hot weather forces them to work harder and roam farther to find food and water, said Rick Winslow, the department’s bear and cougar biologist.

More young bears also are setting out on their own this summer following three years of good precipitation and high bear reproduction, he said. Residents of wildland-urban interface areas such as the foothills of Albuquerque and Santa Fe or rural portions of the state may also have a likelier chance of encountering bears.

People are encouraged to call the department and report a bear that exhibits aggressive behavior. Bears that appear to be moving through the country should be left alone. There’s no need to report them.

If you visit or live 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 your trash cans with ammonia or bleach.

Clean and store your outdoor grills after use because bears can smell sweet barbecue sauce and grease for miles. Don’t leave pet food or food dishes outdoors at night, and remove bird feeders. Bears see them as high calorie treats and often look for other food sources nearby.

Never leave fruit from trees and bushes to rot on the ground as it is a powerful attractant to bears and other wildlife. Never put meat or sweet-smelling food scraps such as melon in your compost pile.

If you encounter a bear, stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact as the bear may consider it a threat. Do not run. Instead, 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, 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’re there. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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