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Hungry bears pose danger

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By Optic Editorial Board

Perhaps the editorial cartoon on the right is indicative of the differences between city life in the eastern reaches of the U.S. and country life out here in the West. For New Mexicans, a bear is a bear, but back East, it’s nothing but a slumping market.

No wonder our salsas are so different.

While some New Mexicans may be worrying about the “bear” impact on their pensions, New Yorkers are probably unaware of the real bear problem we’re having out here. Hungry black bears — faced with a lack of edible forage like wild berries during this brutal drought — are finding their way into human habitats. The result is a danger to livestock, pets and humans.

Typically, game wardens try to trap the bears and return them to the wild unharmed, but that’s not necessarily the case with aggressive bears. So far this year, nearly three dozen bears have been killed in this area by Game and Fish officials, or by landowners themselves, usually as a way to protect their livestock.

Of course, anyone who was in the Bridge Street area of Las Vegas on Friday — where the latest bear sighting took place (at least as of this writing) — knows that these creatures are not just a rural problem. A number of bears have been spotted in the Las Vegas area looking for a meal.

If you encounter a bear, make a lot of noise and try to scare it off. But keep your distance. And don’t do anything that invites them to your home, such as leaving food out unnecessarily. They’re finding meals in our garbage, bird feeders and yards where pets’ food is left out.

Take some precautions. Be on the alert. By October or November, we’re told, the problem should subside. Then maybe you can get back to worrying about your 401(k).

Hero/illegal

Turns out that the Albuquerque man who chased down an alleged child abductor and saved a 6-year-old girl from what would have likely been a terrible fate is a hero and an illegal. Antonio Diaz Chacon, 23, has confirmed that he married an American woman and has been in the country for four years, but he says he abandoned efforts to obtain legal residency because the process was just too difficult and expensive.

We wonder, in light of Gov. Susana Martinez’s effort in the last legislative session to reform the state’s driver’s license laws: Did Diaz Chacon have a New Mexico license when he chased down the suspect?

Of course, Diaz Chacon’s status will be great fodder for the national debate over U.S. and New Mexico immigration policies. Whether it will have any impact on the impasse remains to be seen, but now that “hero” is running alongside “illegal,” maybe people will start to see the humanity involved.