November 5, 2013 in Blog
Did you know that the living, breathing Smokey Bear was found as a cub in 1950 by soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas? The little guy was caught high up in a tree, trying to escape the flames of the Capitan Gap forest fire. The black bear was originally named “Hotfoot Teddy,” but the soldiers later renamed him after the US Forest Service’s mascot. Smokey is the most famous black bear from New Mexico, but all black bears are sort of special, since they’re the official state animal of New Mexico.
These days, you often read or hear about stories of black bears invading suburban neighborhoods, and these stories often give the impression that if you go on a camping vacation you have to worry. Certainly, you should be careful about leaving food out, and if you see bear tracks, you probably need to keep your distance. But at least in southern New Mexico, encountering a black bear in the wild is kind of rare; these furry, intelligent creatures are wary and shy, and they are most likely as afraid of you as you are of them.
Of course, you may actually be on vacation in southern New Mexico to hunt black bears, in which case you’ll probably want to follow the tracks. Running from August through October, black bear season is just about over for 2013, but it is open to all weapons. If you’re only hunting with a camera, you might be able to spot one foraging before winter sets in. Either way, give our animal neighbors plenty of space, and leave the forest like you found—Smokey Bear would approve.