Over-friendly black bear caught by Mexico wildlife officials in Nuevo León

Wildlife officials said the bear was no longer afraid of humans

Over-friendly black bear caught by Mexico wildlife officials in Nuevo León
An adult black bear looks over the tall grass – Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP
English 06/08/2020 15:25 Mexico City David Carrizales/EL UNIVERSAL, Encyclopedia Britannica & Defenders.org Actualizada 10:59

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The black bear (Ursus americanus) that was spotted approaching women visiting the Chipinque Ecological Park and neighbors of the San Pedro Municipality in Nuevo León, was caught and is under the protection of the state branch of the Environmental Protection Federal Prosecutor that will decide what will happen to the animal.

Nuevo León’s Parks and Wildlife direction informed the black bear was caught on Wednesday afternoon at the Valle de San Ángel neighborhood of the San Pedro municipality after a neighbor called 911.

The call was attended by workers from the Parks and Wildlife direction, in addition to personnel from Mexico’s Federal Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA), who, after locating the animal, held it “through chemical contention,” which does not put its health at risk and once they caught him, they noticed it had an ID ring on an ear with the number 34, which corresponds to the bear that approached hikers some weeks ago and then followed a woman in a residential area near the Nuevo León ecological park.

After being caught, the bear underwent a medical evaluation performed by  Wildlife officials and was then seized by PROFEPA, that will decide what will happen to it.

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In this regard, people have asked, through a petition at the online platform change.org that the animal is not taken to a zoo for they think it is unfair for it to be taken out of its habitat since humans are the ones who have invaded its territory and have proposed that it be taken to a faraway area of the mountainous region instead.

The petition says that “the Nuevo León government declared it will catch the bear that was recently recorded and photographed at Chipinque to then take it to a zoo; the bear is in its natural habitat and must not be punished by taking it out of there because we, humans, have invaded its home; please, help me keep it home.”

Administrators at Chipinque said, “this kind of approach by a black bear to a visitor is an abnormal behavior caused by human beings.”

Authorities think bear 34 has become a “risk” because it is no longer afraid of humans and could attack them any time it approaches them; moreover, it could also be at risk.

The bear was first seen approaching a group of hikers at the Chipinque ecological park. For a few seconds, the bear got close to two female hikers who stood still and snapped a few selfies with the animal. 

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The viral video shows that both women stayed calm while other hikers tried to scare the bear away and asked the women not to move to prevent the bear from attacking them.

Another video showed the same bear following a woman and standing in her way in a street of a nearby residential area.

The video shows the bear following and sniffing a woman while she was slowly walking on the street to safely escape from it.

However, there was a moment in which the bear grabbed the woman from one of her legs, forcing her to stop while a man asked her to stay calm and not to move. Despite the surprise, no one was harmed.

These types of events and sightings are common in nearby residential areas, especially during the dry season. According to experts, the bears leave the mountains to search for water and food.

Nuevo León environmentalists and citizens have protested against wildlife officials castrating the black bear and moving it to Chihuahua after catching it.

The young male bear, that weighs some 100 kg, was taken to the School of Veterinary Medicine of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL) for a medical check-up.

Moreover, experts put a satellite radio to monitor its movements. According to the PROFEPA, Carlos López González, a researcher from the Autonomous University of Querétaro who has worked with bears in Sonora and Chihuahua, will be in charge of monitoring the bear.

The animal was castrated to prevent mixing and competition with other Ursus americanus eremicus males at the El Nido, Chihuahua, where it was taken.

This decision has caused controversy among the Nuevo León population who think moving it to Chihuahua is a death sentence since it is an “almost domesticated and lazy” young bear that has become used to getting food out of trash cans and that will now have to fight for land with larger bears of a different subspecies.

Hence, through social media, people have asked PROFEPA to give this specimen, who people have called “Kind bear” or “Chipi,” the opportunity to have a calm and protected life perhaps in a sanctuary for carnivorous animals located in Denver, Colorado.

Meanwhile, the Líderes Socialmente Responsbles (Socially Responsible Leaders) organization condemned the castration and transferring of the bear “so that it does not move nor reproduces” in Chihuahua, and told people who visit the Chipinque ecological park that if they keep approaching animals, they will only give arguments for the government to get rid of them and keep invading their habitat.

Black Bears
According to defenders.org, the American black bear is the smallest of the three bear species found in North America and is found only in North America.

Black bears have short, non-retractable claws that give them an excellent tree-climbing ability.

The black bear’s fur is usually a uniform color except for a brown muzzle and light markings that sometimes appear on their chests. Eastern populations are usually black while western populations often show brown, cinnamon, and blond coloration in addition to black. Black bears with white-bluish fur are known as Kermode (glacier) bears and these unique color phases are only found in coastal British Columbia, Canada.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the black bear (Ursus americanus) is found in the forests of North America, including parts of Mexico

Black bears that are actually brown are most common in western North America. They are sometimes called brown bears, but the true brown bear is much larger.

The black bear is large and stocky and has a short tail. Adults range from 1.5 to 1.8 meters in length and weigh 90–270 kg. Moreover, male bears can be up to 70% heavier than female bears. The head is small but is supported by a strong neck. The ears are small and rounded. The curved claws are non-retractile, and bears walk on the soles of their feet.

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Although bears are commonly classified as carnivores, black bears have an omnivorous diet. In spring they consume emerging plants and carcasses of animals that have died during the winter. Fruits dominate the diet in summer, and both fruit and mast, especially acorns and beechnuts, constitute most of the fall diet. Additionally, black bears will also eat pinecones, roots, ants, and honey from wild or domestic bees. Nonetheless, black bears are strong predators, and in some areas, they frequently kill moose calves and deer fawns during spring. 

Black bears living near humans adapt readily to alternate food sources, such as garbage from dumps or campsites and handouts from tourists in parks. Human encounters with black bears occasionally result in injury or death, and attacks are reported every year. In almost all cases, avoiding surprise encounters is the best defense, as black bears prefer to avoid people.

According to the encyclopedia, “black bears become dormant during winter. They spend the winter in dens located in rock crevices, in underground burrows, under tree roots, in hollow trees, in brush piles, or simply on open-ground beds. Before winter sleep, bears must accumulate large quantities of body fat during late summer and fall. Not only does this enable them to survive the long period of winter fasting, but it also allows them to have sufficient energy in spring when they emerge and food is rare. For females, the amount of fat stored before winter is linked with reproductive success: fatter females typically have more and bigger young than do leaner females. Accumulating fat for the winter is thus a strong drive, and it explains the constant search for food through the summer and fall.”

Black bears are not territorial; they are mostly solitary, and the home ranges of both males and females may overlap. Home ranges typically are larger where food is less abundant and smaller where food is plentiful. 

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