BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
This is the perfect time to celebrate our bears! The County has declared August 2019 as Bear Month, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of Smokey Bear, the New Mexico cub whose rescue from a wildfire in the Capitan Mountains started a dedicated movement to protect our forests.
With that in mind the Rotary Club of Los Alamos invited James Robinson, County Councilor and co-founder of Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation (LEWF), Tuesday to speak about bears, bear safety, and the Aug. 23 and 24 Bear Festival at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC).
Robinson mentioned how his friendship with the son of Dr. Kathleen Ramsey, a renowned local wildlife rehabilitator, inspired his interest in bears. During his presentation, Robinson described how bears preparing for hibernation require 20,000 calories per day to maintain a healthy winter weight because 80 percent of their weight will be lost during hibernation.
Although our local black bears are not aggressive, unless cornered or a mother bear’s cubs are threatened, it is important to discourage bears from our neighborhoods. A “fed bear Is a dead bear” is a reminder that problem bears, almost always those seeking easily available food sources, are tagged when captured and released. Bears with three tags are euthanized. because bears have such a keen sense of smell, they often return to their familiar home territory even when relocated many miles away. Local bears have returned from relocation sites as far away as Chama and the Colorado border.
To help bears resist temptation, please place trash in bear-resistant garbage cans, available from the County, and only put trash out on the morning of pick-up; remove outside food sources such as pet food, birdfeeders, and hummingbird feeders, especially at night; pick fruit from trees and off the ground; and consider enclosing your trash cans with an electric fence.
If you encounter a bear, do not approach it. The bear always wants a way to escape. Make big and loud sounds so you will not startle the bear. As a warning that you are to close, bears will bluff charge, meaning they charge at you, but do not attack. They may also growl and clap their jaws together. Don’t take the chance of experiencing either!
To learn more about bears, please consider attending the Bear Festival a PEEC. On Friday night, Aug. 23, a Bear Buffet dinner will be served, $40 for members, $50 for non-members; on Saturday, Aug. 24, bear activities will be offered free of charge from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, please go to: www.peecnature.org.
If you are interested in the work of the LEWF, which supports the work of wildlife rehabilitators–bears, bobcats, birds, and more–please call: (505) 412-8469.