New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers are investigating a bear attack that occurred at the Pajarito Ski Area on Friday evening. The Los Alamos Police Department alerted conservation officers after receiving a distress call from the woman’s husband.
The victim, 37, of Los Alamos and her husband were sitting on the deck at the lodge, observing Comet NEOWISE, when the bear approached them. Coming within a foot of the couple, the bear began chasing the woman and attacked her in the parking lot.
The woman was taken to the Los Alamos Medical Center and later air lifted to University of New Mexico Hospital due to the severity of the injuries. Initial reports indicate that the woman sustained multiple injuries including several broken bones, a collapsed lung, bite marks and scratches.
After arriving on scene, responding officers located and dispatched a bear that was eating trash in the vicinity. Conservation officers will work with the Veterinary Diagnostic Services (VDS) lab in Albuquerque to examine the bear.
DNA samples will be collected from the victim, her clothing and the area where the attack occurred. Evidence will be analyzed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic Laboratory to verify that this was the bear involved in the attack.
The Department reminds outdoor recreationists to be bear aware. During the summer, bears are active as they look for food sources in preparation for the winter months.
Though bears can be unpredictable, here are some ways to protect yourself if you encounter a bear:
- Stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may consider that a threat. Do not run. 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 you, 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 are there. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.
If you live or camp 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 cans with ammonia or bleach.
- Remove bird feeders. Bears see them as sweet treats, and often they will look for other food sources nearby.
- Never put meat or sweet-smelling food scraps such as melon in your compost pile.
- Don’t leave pet food or food dishes outdoors at night.
- Clean and store outdoor grills after use. Bears can smell sweet barbecue sauce and grease for miles.
- Never intentionally feed bears to attract them for viewing.
- Keep your camp clean, and store food and garbage properly at all times. Use bear-proof containers when available. If not, suspend food, toiletries, coolers and garbage from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet out from the tree trunk.
- Keep your tent and sleeping bag free of all food smells. Store the clothes you wore while cooking or eating with your food.
- Sleep a good distance from your cooking area or food storage site.