Courtesy Loretta Garcia

Bears show up in unusual places. In 2018, this bear wandered near Agua Fría Street and Siler Road in Santa Fe. He surprised Donald and Loretta Garcia at Perfection Auto Craft around lunchtime when they spotted him wandering in their lot. Bears, who are experts at raiding garbage cans, have been known to wander down the streets of Ratón, as well.

A 37-year-old Los Alamos woman is still recovering in an Albuquerque hospital from wounds she suffered when a bear attacked her July 17.

Conservation officers with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department killed a bear found eating trash near the scene of the attack. They believed it was the one that had mauled the woman.

Tristanna Bickford, a spokeswoman for the Game and Fish Department, said Monday that evidence sent to the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic Laboratory - including DNA samples from the scene - confirmed the slain bear was the one involved in the attack.

The woman and her husband had been sitting on a deck at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area when the bear approached them. Bickford said the bear came within a foot of the couple and then began "chasing the woman and attacked her in the parking lot."

"The victim's husband was able to fight off the bear, get her safely into the car and transported her to Los Alamos Medical Center," Bickford said.

The woman later was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital because of the severity of her injuries.

Bickford said the woman is in stable condition there.

The woman's family has asked members of the media to respect their privacy while the woman recovers, Bickford added.

The attack came about two weeks after the Game and Fish Department sent out an advisory warning Santa Fe-area residents to be aware of increased bear activity, including "a sow and cubs in the foothills of Santa Fe between Canyon Road and Highway 285."

That advisory urged residents to take precautionary measures to discourage bear visits.

Bickford said those actions include "keeping your yard clean - pick up garbage, remove bird feeders at night, don't leave pet food or dishes out overnight and clean your grill.

"The actions will help encourage bears to not linger in your yard," she said.

Anyone who encounters a bear should remain still and not run away, Bickford said, adding people with pets or small children with them during a bear encounter should keep them close and hold them to discourage them from running.

And if you encounter a mother bear with cubs, she said, "Don't get in between them. Leave the bear plenty of room to escape."

In a worst-case scenario, state Game and Fish authorities urge people to fight back if attacked, using a rock, cellphone or even a fist against a bear's nose and eyes to fend it off.

Just last week, video went viral of a black bear approaching a woman and standing up to smell her face and hair in an ecological park in Mexico. The woman and her two companions remained still and calm as she used her iPhone to take a selfie with the bear before it wandered away. No one was harmed in that encounter.

This story first published in the Santa Fe New Mexican, a sibling publication of the Taos News.

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