For immediate release: July 26, 2013 Contact: Mary Katherine Ray, Rio Grande Chapter Wildlife chair, 575-772-5655

New Mexicans ask Gov. Martinez to allow diversionary feeding to keep Sandia bears away from people

More than 1,300 New Mexicans have asked Gov. Susana Martinez to direct New Mexico Game and Fish to consider diversionary feeding of bears in the Sandia Mountains.

The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and Sandia Mountain Bearwatch asked New Mexicans to speak up to help starving bears, and so far 1,386 people have sent messages to the governor through the Rio Grande Chapter’s action alert.

Diversionary feeding differs from supplemental feeding in that officials place food in bear habitat, away from human dwellings. The purpose is to keep bears away from humans in their own habitat during tough times when natural bear food is unavailable or drastically limited by conditions like the late frost and extreme drought we have had this year.

Bears in the Sandias have very few options to roam to find forage without running into development. About 500,000 people now sit between bears in the mountains and the Rio Grande, where they historically would have gone seeking food and water. When a bear winds up on city streets or in someone’s back yard, New Mexico Game and Fish has to provide the manpower and resources to deal with it.

Where it has been tried, diversionary feeding has reduced this conflict on the bear/human habitat interface. It is not meant to be a permanent solution but a stopgap measure to help bears get through a rough patch.

Bears that have been the beneficiaries of diversionary feeding have not become dependent or dangerous. And it has not increased the local bear population. New Mexico Game and Fish is offering financial incentive to ranchers who provide water for wildlife. Providing food for bears is not such a stretch. Given the response, it is clear that New Mexicans care about our state mammal, the iconic black bear.

More information on diversionary feeding.

January 2013 - The Citizens Coalition (made up of Amigos Bravos, the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club and Caballo Concerned Citizens) statement re. WQCC and NMED - Are they protecting New Mexico Water? READ MORE
February 2013 - Chapter reaction on new state plan on San Juan Generating Station coal burning plant READ MORE
April 2013 - Rio Grande Chapter statement opposing Environment Department’s proposed copper rule READ MORE
June 2013 - Chapter statement on President Obama's Climate speech READ MORE