The Dos and Don’ts of Bear Country
It’s been a long, cold winter but the bears are back in Red River, NM! They’ve emerged from their dens and are out wandering the woods and ready for summer fun.
Don’t be alarmed though, we can enjoy living in bear country with our furry friends if we know the dos and don’ts of proper bear etiquette.
A few years ago there was a particularly curious bear that we nicknamed Bo who unfortunately overstayed his welcome in our small town of Red River. Little Bo came out of his den hungry and looking for food. Normally he would be looking for yummy snacks like insects, acorns, nuts, and berries, but one day Bo stumbled upon an empty campsite and managed to get into the meat the campers had planned to grill that evening.
Honestly, who could blame the little guy? No one can resist some good lip smackin’ BBQ. But just like the rest of us, after he tasted how good the BBQ was there was no way he was going to go back to eating berries and insects.
During the following weeks, Bo was spotted around more and more campsites in search of food. Now normally he would be afraid of humans, but as he continued to encounter people and grew more comfortable, the less he feared us. Which is when he became a problem.
The saying “a fed bear is a dead bear” is something we in Red River know all too well. The sad truth is that when bears no longer fear humans, people have the potential to get hurt and the bear is either relocated or more often destroyed. Fortunately, our little friend Bo was safely removed before anyone got hurt, but we were all sad to see him go.
How can we prevent this from happening in the future?
- Store garbage in a sturdy can that is kept inside a secure metal shed or garage
- Feed pets indoors and store food inside a sturdy shed or garage
- Make sure all garage doors are shut and sheds are securely locked at night
- Make sure all dumpsters are securely locked at all times
- Only set out enough birdseed to last the day
- Hang bird feeders from trees or away from the house and bring them inside at night
- Plant fruit trees away from the house and pick the fruit as it ripens (bears see fruit on the ground as an easy snack)
- Keep wood piles away from the house (they attract rodents which bears will snack on)
- Clean up after barbecues or cook-outs
What if I encounter a bear?
- Slowly back away
- Stand upright and slowly wave your arms
- Calmly talk to the bear so they know you’re there (a surprised bear is a dangerous bear)
- Look around for cubs
- Fight back aggressively if a bear attacks you (bears have been driven away when people fight back with rocks, sticks, etc.)
- Feed the bear
- Approach the bear
- Come in between a mother bear and her cubs
Aside from sport hunting, the majority of bear deaths in recent years are due to the lack of education and irresponsibleness of humans in regard to food attracting bears to the area. But with the proper education, we can help protect the bears in Red River, NM.