With drought conditions in Taos County — and roughly the western half of New Mexico — alleviated by an above-average snowpack and unusual spring rains, humans may be less likely to encounter black bears as they emerge from hibernation, according to wildlife officials, who are nonetheless urging residents and visitors to be "bear aware."

In years when there is good moisture and where natural food sources are abundant, human-bear conflicts and interactions are down, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife press release. Over 90 percent of a bear’s natural diet consists of native forage like grasses, berries, fruits, nuts and plants, which are dependent on moisture. Wildlife officials monitor weather patterns in the spring and summer to help determine what natural forage will be available in the summer and fall.

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