Thursday, December 7, 2023

Nuevo León’s sociable bear captured, released in mountains

When a famously people-curious black bear in San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León, decided to take a nap on someone’s front porch Wednesday, his days of socializing with his human neighbors came to an end.

Authorities seized the opportunity to capture the bear with the intention of releasing it in a less populated area of the eastern Sierra Madre.

The bear, identifiable by a tag in its ear, has had at least two recent interactions with humans in Chipinque Park, part of the larger Cumbres de Monterrey National Park, including one where the bear stood on its hind legs to sniff a woman’s hair as she snapped a selfie, going against park recommendations for proper behavior during a bear encounter. 

“This type of approach by the black bear to the visitor is abnormal behavior caused by human beings,” said representatives from the park in a statement after footage of the incident appeared on social media. “The interaction shown in the video should have been avoided; what is recommended is to move away when detecting the presence of the bear and not approach.”

Encounters with bears are not unusual in the park, but this kind of fearless curiosity with humans is, and it puts both the bear and the people it interacts with at risk.

This particular bear, a young male who park authorities had captured and released at least twice before, learned from his mother that humans can be a source of food and could no longer be allowed in proximity to population centers. 

“The natural behavior of a bear toward people is always to run away. What we have seen in the videos is what we call totally aberrant behavior; it is no longer a natural behavior of a bear and can lead to aggressive behavior and pose a risk to the safety of people,” said Rogelio Carrera Treviño, coordinator of the wildlife laboratory at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León.

In the United States, bears that exhibit this level of familiarity with people are often euthanized, but Mexican black bears are an endangered species and thus protected by law.

The bear was captured with the support of Civil Protection and Parks and Wildlife personnel, who tranquilized him while he slept outside the door of a home. 

Although authorities originally planned to send him to a zoo or wildlife center due to his all-too-sociable behavior, an outcry on social media triggered the decision to release him in a remote area of the mountains.

Source: La Silla Rota (sp)

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