New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers are investigating a predatory bear attack that occurred early Friday morning in the mountain resort community of Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
According to a department press release, “A Cloudcroft resident, age 70, sustained multiple injuries including puncture wounds to the arm and scratches on the leg. His wife drove him to a hospital in Alamogordo where he was treated for these injuries. According to responding officers the bite occurred early this morning when he stepped out of his house.
The homeowner admitted to feeding wildlife with cracked corn at his residence. He also told officers that a minimum of four bears have routinely been coming into the residence. Department officers identified several bowls of pet food with residual amounts of dog or cat food near the house as well as bear prints on the windows and scratch marks on the porch.
“We are thankful the victim was not hurt worse and are hopeful he will recover quickly,” said Department Director Alexandra Sandoval. “However, feeding wildlife is never an acceptable practice and we can’t emphasis enough the importance of keeping properties clear of items that can attract bears. We will now have to euthanize the bears because they are habituated to humans and pose a serious public safety risk. My decision to euthanize these bears could have been completely avoided had the bears not been fed.”
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 4 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.
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.