POSTED: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 11:21am
UPDATED: Monday, June 23, 2014 - 9:17am
Silver City, NM — Due to the continuing hot and dry conditions that the Gila National Forest is experiencing, black bear activity is on the rise. Homeowners and recreationists have been seeing an increasing number of black bears in close proximity to their property or within recreation areas. As drought conditions persist, black bears are in search of food and water.
Forest officials remind homeowners and recreationists to take extra precautions to minimize human and bear encounters in forested areas. Precautions include: for recreationists, proper food storage and disposal of garbage, recognizing signs of bear activity and making yourself aware to bears in the area. For homeowners near forested areas, store pet food in an enclosed building, proper disposal of garbage, and keeping bird feed cleaned up under bird feeders.
Proper food storage techniques when camping is to store food within a vehicle or hard-sided camper or if that is not possible, hang food at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the supporting structure such as a tree.
While walking in forested areas, make noise to alert bears that you are in the area. Looking for signs of bear droppings (scat) or claw marks or scratches on tree bark are indicators that bears are using the area. Remember, a black bear with cubs can be particulary dangerous if encountered, as the mother bear will try to protect her young cubs.
If you see a bear exhibiting unusual behavior such as no fear of humans or getting into food, contact your local New Mexico Game Warden or local Forest Service official.
“Although it is a special treat to see black bears in the wild, remember to think about bear safety to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to the forest. Be Bear Aware” says Gila National Forest Supervisor, Kelly Russell.