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Column 082817 Wall

Monday, August 28, 2017

Black Bear Encounters with Humankind in Northern Mexico

By Allan Wall

American black bears (Ursus americanus) live in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, and they are divided into sixteen sub-species.

There are three subspecies in Mexico.  Click here for map of historical distributions.  They are:

1.  The New Mexico Black Bear (Ursus americanus amblyceps), found in the U.S. southwest and Mexican border area.
2.  The West Mexico Black Bear (Ursus americanus machetes), which resides in north-central Mexico.
3.  The Mexican black bear (Ursus americanus eremicus), found in northern Mexico and U.S. borderlands (in Big Bend National Park, for instance).  

When bears get hungry, they come down from the mountains seeking food and encounter human civilization.

I heard of one such story through the grapevine, I can’t recall from whom nor when I heard it. According to the story, the bear was captured in a town and placed in jail for safekeeping for a time.  It was probably the best place they had to put it.

Here are four media-reported incidents from the past three years involving the Mexican black bear (Ursus americanus eremicus), considered endangered by the Mexican government:

THE SHEEP-EATING BEAR (Reported May of 2014)

The media reported a bear coming down from the mountains of Arteaga near Saltillo “in search of water and food.”  It “was rescued and freed by personnel of Recursos Forestales y Vida Silvestre de la Secretaria del Medio Ambiente (Forest and Wildlife Resources of the Secretariat of the Environment).”

This bear weighed 119 kilograms (over 260 pounds) and killed five sheep before its capture. The incident followed other black bear sightings by residents.

It was released in the Sierra of Diamante in southeast Coahuila state. 

The article about this bear (click here) includes three good photos, one of the bear in its cage, one of the bear leaving his cage when being released, and the other of the bear running.

BEAR IN A BACK PATIO (Reported May of 2016)

A black bear came into Santiago, part of the Monterrey metroplex.  The two-year old bear, weighing 60 kilograms (over 130 pounds), was found in the back patio of a residence.

The bear was sedated and taken to the Parque Zoológico La Pastora, a zoo in Monterrey.  After being examined and receiving a clean bill of health, the bear was released in Rayones, part of the black bear’s habitat.  Click here for source article.

BEAR EATING FROM TRASH CONTAINERS (Reported November 2016)

It was reported that “Parques y Vida Silvestre de Nuevo León transported and liberated a 150-kilo (330 pound) black bear in its habitat, in the municipio of Rayones, that had been spotted by residents of the Residencial Bosquencinos neighborhood, south of the capital of Nuevo Leon [Monterrey].”  Click here for source.

 The residents had spotted the bear (estimated to be about 8 years old) feeding from trash containers.

The animal was sedated with a dart, then taken to the Parque Zoológico La Pastora.  After getting a clean bill of health, the bear was taken and released in an uninhabited area in the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park.

THE BEAR AND THE PIG (Reported August 2017)

A black bear came down from the mountains, into the city of Monterrey, ate a family pet, and returned to the mountains.

This incident took place in the Hacienda los Encinos neighborhood.  According to a news report published in Mexico’s Excelsior, “The bear entered the yard of the residence and there 'ate a small pig which they had as a pet.'"  

See ¡Vaya susto! Oso irrumpe en casa de Monterrey y se come a mascota (Excélsior, August 22nd, 2017).  The article includes a short video of the bear, and a photograph which appears to be of the bear eating the pig.

The bear actually entered the house, where, according to Protección Civil de Monterrey, quoted in the aforementioned article, “Personnel of Parques y Vida Silvestre de Nuevo León (Parks and Wildlife of [the state of] Nuevo Leon), with support of Protección Civil de Monterrey, tried to capture it inside the house to take it elsewhere.  Nevertheless, [the bear] escaped to the hill.  They did not locate [the bear] in the area.” (Citation from the article.)

Other government agencies which were involved were Fuerza Civil and PROFEPA (Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente, the federal environmental agency).

No people were harmed in the incident.  The poor pig was devoured. The bear, presumably, returned home safely.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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