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Bear activists ask governor to help out

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They want diversionary feeding, but Martinez has faith in state’s experts

Sandia Mountain bear activists are ramping up their campaign in favor of “diversionary feeding,” a wildlife management practice that involves providing food to bears in their natural habitat, so they won’t head down the mountains to forage in areas where humans live.

The state Department of Game and Fish opposes the practice, which officials say could have negative long-term impacts, such as making bears dependent on humans for food.

Advocates of the practice say bears in the Sandias are growing desperate for food due to the extreme drought and because many of their food sources sprouted in the spring and then froze. Those advocates, spearheaded by the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club and Sandia Mountain Bearwatch, have lauched a campaign asking Gov. Susana Martinez to allow diversionary feeding.

According to a news release Friday from those organizations, more than 1,300 New Mexicans have sent messages to the governor urging her to allow the feeding.


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Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said Friday in a written statement that Martinez has faith in the experts at Game and Fish.

“We have some of the finest and most educated wildlife professionals in the nation who provide recommendations to the State Game Commission to ensure continued success in bear management,” Knell wrote. “Wildlife experts maintain that bear feeding programs in drought conditions have long-term impacts and liabilities that don’t outweigh the short-term benefits. Ultimately, such a program would be dangerous for bears and for humans.”