Coyotes & Food

A coyote trots off with a duck for dinner at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Mouser Williams)

By Mariana Rivera Freeman, Field Science Specialist

Coyotes can be controversial. To different people and cultures, the coyote carries diverse significance. But outside of the meaning we give these animals, they have a natural purpose of their own. While they go about that purpose, they occasionally come into contact with us, whether in the wilderness, where coyotes prefer to spend their time, or in human spaces.

Read more Coyotes & Food

Virtual Field Trip: Spectacularly Spooky Animal Senses

This jumping spider has excellent vision and uses its eyes to hunt prey. (Photo by Beth Cortright)

Find out all about animal senses, and use your senses to explore your world, in this virtual field trip for young children. If you’re a teacher, please contact us at educator@peecnature.org to let us know if you’re using this content in your classroom. Enhanced content may be available for teachers.

Click the links below for a spectacularly spooky animal senses adventure!

1) Watch this video:

Find out how skulls can give us clues to how animals use their senses in this video featuring PEEC Field Science Specialist Mariana Rivera Freeman.

Texto del video en español.

2) Outdoor activity: Animal Senses Scavenger Hunt (Versión en español)

3) Meet PEEC’s Spectacularly Spooky Critters: Meet some of the critters that call the Los Alamos Nature Center home! Watch the recording of our tour here.

Share your experience with us! Email us at educator@peecnature.org to share your pictures and stories. You can rate our field trip using our evaluation form.

Virtual Field Trip: Bird Banding

A student releases a bird after banding during a field trip at Bandelier National Monument. (Photo by Rachel Landman)

Bird banding is a scientific method for collecting information about bird populations. Whether you’re a student or a bird enthusiast, join us on a virtual field trip to find out more about bird banding! If you’re a teacher, please contact us at educator@peecnature.org to let us know if you’re using this content in your classroom. Enhanced content may be available for teachers.

Click the links below to take a virtual bird banding field trip!

1) Watch this video:

Learn more about bird banding in Bandelier National Monument in this video by bird banding intern Zoë Moffett.

Texto del video en español

2) Hands-on activity: Build and band a bird (Versión en español)

3) Outdoor activity: Birds in your community scavenger hunt (Versión en español)

Share your experience with us! Email us at educator@peecnature.org to share your pictures and stories. You can rate our field trip using our evaluation form.

Getting to Hibernation: Best Practices for Living with Bears

A black bear crosses a road near Bandelier National Monument in 2018. (Photo by Jonathan Creel)

By James Robinson
Los Alamos County Councilor

I have been receiving many emails, text messages, and phone calls concerning our increased bear activity, and I thought I would share some best practices to use until winter.

First, some education.

An American black bear this far into the year needs to consume over 10,000 calories a day to build the weight necessary for the winter. Bears are the world’s greatest calorie counters, and easy calories are always the best.

Traditionally, bears would get their calories by eating grasses, berries, acorns, and occasional meat sources. However, when these sources are limited due to drought, bears will often find their way into our roll-carts. These carts are full of better tasting, high calorie food than the bear would find in nature, and we tend to line it up nicely for them on the street — an easy way to make their calorie goal. Like a kid in a cookie jar, once they have positive reinforcement, they will keep coming back for more until the cookie jar is removed or they are punished.

Negative reinforcement of bears can range from yelling and screaming, to electric shocks, rubber bullets, and relocation. Ultimately, the bear might have to be euthanized. All because it kept coming for the cookie in the cookie jar.

This is where we, as residents of this area, come in.

As our area continues to experience extreme drought, we will continue to see more and more bears coming into town looking for food. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure that they cannot find easy food. Only then, can we assure that these bears will not have to face relocation or euthanization.

I have asked the County staff to begin procuring more bear resistant roll-carts. My goal is to get every household a bear resistant roll-cart, however, it will take time to get the carts and deploy them. In the meantime, I am asking all residents of Los Alamos to get creative in keeping bears out of our roll-carts. The easiest solution is to lock the roll-cart in a garage or shed until the morning of your scheduled collection. If you have this ability, PLEASE do this right away.

For those, like myself, who do not have a garage to store our roll-carts, my first recommendation would be to find a way to secure the lid of your roll-cart. This video demonstrates how this can be done using ratchet straps. Another option is to purchase an electric fence (similar to those used for dogs) and build a barrier around your roll-carts. Bears are very pain adverse and often will give up after one shock. Here’s some information from Bear Smart Durango on how to use electric fencing to deter bears.

Other options I have heard is cleaning your roll-cart regularly with ammonia, or even storing dirty diapers in the cart. We are a creative community. I feel we can come up with a million ways to build a better bear resistant roll-cart!

Ultimately, it is up to each and every one of us to protect our bears. I will continue to work on community wide efforts to help our citizens, however, due to the limitations of the Anti-Donation Clause, many of these options are up to the individual household.

As the adage goes, “a fed bear, is a dead bear.” Los Alamos has already seen one bear attack, and a mother bear and cubs relocated. Most likely, these bears will not be the last. By changing our habits, and working a little harder, we can make sure we live in harmony with our bears. It is up to us to take responsibility for the waste we generate.

To learn more about living amongst black bears, be sure to tune in for a talk from Kathleen Ramsay on Tuesday, September 1 at 7 PM. She will discuss the ways that bears access food in our communities, and what we can do to prevent this behavior.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at james.robinson@lacnm.us.

If you’d like more information on living with bears, I encourage you to visit this website as well for information on preventing problems.

Photographing Black Bears in Los Alamos

Learn about Hari Viswanathan’s experiences photographing black bears in Los Alamos using critter cameras.

Hari Viswanathan joined PEEC for Bear Festival to discuss his experiences photographing black bears in backyards using critter cameras in Los Alamos. In the above video, he talks about how he got started with critter cameras, what behaviors he’s captured from visiting bears, how often he sees them, and more.

In this video, Hari shares some of the video highlights he’s captured using critter cameras.

In the second video, Hari shares some of the video highlights of black bears that he’s been able to capture with his critter cameras!

If you’d like to learn more about bears visiting our yards and communities, be sure to tune in for tomorrow’s live-streamed talk from Dr. Kathleen Ramsay. Find out more and register here.

What to Do if You See a Black Bear

PEEC’s Director of Interpretation Kristen O’Hara shares some quick tips on what to do if you encounter a black bear in your neighborhood or while hiking.

Do you know what to do if you encounter a black bear in your neighborhood or while hiking? Check out this video from the Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s Director of Interpretation Kristen O’Hara for some dos and don’ts!

Today is the first day of our week-long virtual Bear Festival! Stay tuned for more videos, blogs, and fun! Thanks to Century Bank for sponsoring this event.

If you’d like to learn more about bear communication and how you should respond to one, be sure to tune in for tomorrow’s live-streamed talk, called “Bear Speak,” from wildlife biologist and Wildlife For You instructor Daryl Ratajczak.

Learn more about PEEC’s Bear Festival and upcoming live events here.