Beware of Bears, New Mexico

Bear hitchhiking on Los Alamos garbage truck (Source: Evan Welsch via Albuquerque Journal)

Bear hitchhiking on Los Alamos garbage truck (Source: Evan Welsch via Albuquerque Journal)

Winter’s wrapped up and spring’s suddenly certain. Our New Mexico world is so, so alive. Streams are flowing, and birds are frenetically homemaking and singing all the while. Buds are bursting, lime green tendrils are sprouting, and the bears are back! Or they will be soon…

The Albuquerque Journal reminds us to anticipate plenty of wildlife including bruins.

New Mexico wildlife officials say bears are expected to be busy this spring after three years of good precipitation following what has been a long-running drought. (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

Right. Bears. Last year I missed the bear warning, but that didn’t stop the handsome bears from visiting.

Bears, Oh My!

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” ~ L. Frank Baum (Source: Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz)

Last summer I received an email from one of our neighbors alerting us that bear activity had become increasingly high, so high in fact, that another neighbor had witnessed this fine fellow a little closer than desired.

Neighborhood Bear, 25 May 2016 (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Apparently the bear appeared around 6:00 PM in the evening in late June. For approximately 45 minutes the bear explored the yard and ate the food from bird feeders. The homeowner banged furniture and shouted (in hopes of shortening the bear’s visit), but the bear was undeterred. Only when he blew an emergency whistle did the bear finally depart.

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

As an unabashed wildlife enthusiast, I was initially thrilled to hear that the bear was visiting our neighborhood. My more levelheaded bride reminded me that sufficient risks accompanied bear encounters in residential neighborhoods, that I’m contemplating a future post about the best bear-proof bird feeding practices. All pointers welcome!

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Update: May Bear Visit

Over laughter and libations with neighbors last night I discovered that our neighborhood bear (or more likely—given the dramatic difference in size, girth, etc.—another neighborhood bear) has been spied just down the hill from our house. Can you see him (or at least his head and ears) in the trail cam photo below?

Neighborhood Bear Behind Bush (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear Behind Bush (Source: Richard Andre)

After several of us expressed interest, the Richard Andre (the same neighboring homeowner who documented last summer’s bear sightings above) emailed photos and the following missive.

“Please note that a day ago from 2-6 AM, a large black bear came into the neighborhood.” ~ Richard Andre (8 May 2017)

No passerby, this lingering bruin. A four hour visit from this mountain of fur and muscle.

Neighborhood Bear Walking (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear Walking (Source: Richard Andre)

This handsome fellow looks considerably better fed than last summer’s visitor. Apparently he didn’t spend too much time hibernating this winter and living off his stored fat. Or, if he did, he must have discovered some very filling garbage cans in the neighborhood since then!

Mr. Andre’s report inspired simultaneous awe (for the majestic wildlife with which we share our neighborhood) and wariness (for the implicit risk in frequent visits from a laaarge hungry bear looking for handouts.) We discovered that the bear likely helped himself (or herself?) to a buffet dinner courtesy of another neighbor’s trash bin followed by dessert and digestifs of bird food and hummingbird nectar in the Andre’s yard. And it struck one and all as quite likely that our bear sightings are unlikely to end soon…

 

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