Late last week New Mexico Game and Fish (NMGF) got a call in Raton about a mountain lion suspected of eating a puppy and confirmed it after they killed the young female cat and performed a necropsy.
Just days later, about 300 miles south in Lincoln Country, NMGF was investigating a bear attack. A man hunting for shed elk antlers in heavy brush startled a bear that bit and scratched him. The injuries were not life-threatening; he was treated and released from the hospital. NMGF is still looking for the bear
Both press releases provide a list of things to do to help avoid incidents like these. It’s pretty basic stuff, but it seems like we need a reminder each year. I know I found it hard to believe that bears really walked through my backyard until I found the mangled suet feeders.
- Don’t leave pet food, bird feeders, or trash outside.
- Bring pets inside at night.
- Make noise when walking in areas of heavy brush or trees.
And, if you should actually come face to face with either one:
- Do not run. Back away slowly.
- Try to look as large as possible. Raise your arms. Open your coat.
- Fight back with anything at hand if attacked.
I have been considering a short camp out in the Gila National Forest (hoping to hear the howl of a Mexican wolf), but I admit these stories make me hesitate. I have to remind myself that it’s rare to encounter a bear or a cougar and even if they are nearby, their instincts tell them to avoid us.