Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Drought conditions have meant more bears going viral in Nuevo León

A marriage proposal in Monterrey, Nuevo León, was interrupted by a bear that calmly walked by between the couple and the recording camera. “What a good story!” the man recording the video said between laughs. The clip went viral on social media in the first days of October.

Yet this is certainly not the first time a bear has been caught on video in Monterrey. For about fifteen years, bear sightings have been common in the city. These omnivorous animals come down from the wooded area in Cumbres de Monterrey National Park with one purpose only: to look for food. 

In an interview for Reporte Índigo, bear behavior specialist Rogelio Carrera explained that a bear’s diet is not available all year round, which makes the bears look beyond their natural habitat for food.

Moreover, Nuevo León suffered from extreme drought conditions this year, which meant less fruit production, forcing the bears to look further for the up to 20,000 daily calories they need to build up their fat stores for the winter months.

Having to move outside their natural habitat, the bears find it more energy-efficient to look for organic food in the trash rather than hunting down a deer, says Carrera.

 “What we’ve seen through the years is that we have generations of bears that started to have contact with food from human origin, either because people gave them food or because they found food in the garbage […] there are even some bears that since they were cubs, were taken by their mothers to the trash to look for food,” he said, adding that there is now a problem with multiple generations of animals adapting to the city.  

Over time, it has become more common for bears to move further from their homes in Cumbres de Monterrey National Park and deeper into the city. One of the most recent visits happened in Real de San Pedro, a neighborhood in the Zuazua borough far from the park. 

These behaviors have made the bears more “humanized” in that they get more comfortable near people. There are reports of bears wandering on streets and footage that show bears looking for food on rooftops or outside people’s garages.

There is also the story of a woman who took a selfie with a bear on the mountain of Chipinque, and reports of a bear that was found asleep in the streets of the prestigious neighborhood of San Pedro.

To prevent the bears from continuing to come down to the city, Carrera suggests that those living close to Cumbres de Monterrey National Park must pay attention to proper management of their solid waste.

“We can’t leave solid waste out on the street all night because that’s when the bears are the most active. All waste should be taken out, preferably, when the garbage truck arrives,” said Carrera.

The expert also advised people to avoid feeding the bears, emphasizing that even if done out of compassion, “it is the worst thing we can do for them”. 

With reports from Reporte Índigo, El Informador and Proceso

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