JULY 9, 2014

Be Bear Aware when visiting the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

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SPRINGERVILLE – One of those special occasions of enjoying any National Forest is when wildlife is spotted, especially large mammals such as black bears. But, while you are enjoying one of those rare moments of seeing a bear in the wild, precautions need to be taken to avoid conflicts with bears. There are some basic safety precautions to take to avoid conflict with bears while visiting the Forest.

Don’t feed the bears – A fed bear is a dead bear:
• Wild bears have a natural fear of humans and will attempt to avoid people and developed areas – fed bears do not.
• Fed bears will abandon vital natural food sources for human foods and garbage.
• Wild bears quickly become conditioned to being fed and will teach their cubs to approach people to do the same.

When camping in bear county:
• Always keep a clean camp; black bears have an excellent sense of smell that can span miles. For bears, garbage = food!
• Don’t leave food out. Store it in bear resistant storage units or a hard-shelled vehicle, or hang 10 ft. from the ground and 4 ft. from top and side supports.
• Always store food away from your sleeping area.  Where possible, food storage and preparation areas should be at least 100 yards from your sleeping area.    
• Use bear-resistant trash receptacles provided at developed campgrounds.
• Carry E.P.A. registered bear pepper spray.
• Keep your sleeping area, tent, and sleeping bag free of food, toiletries and odors.
• Keep pets on a leash and inside at night as they may attract bears.

When hiking in bear country:
• Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
• Read all signs at the trailhead and carry bear spray.
• Scan ahead for signs of bear activity and watch for signs such as scat, claw marks, diggings, and logs or stumps that are torn apart.
• Hike in a group, keep children close at hand.
• Make your presence known—call out, be loud!

Helpful web sites:
Be Bear Aware:  www.bebearaware.org
Keeping Bears Alive & You Safe: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/publications/documents/BearsAlive.pdf