New Mexico hires professional bear huggers

Looking for a job? If you love wildlife and don’t mind dealing with “problem animals”, then you could work as a “bear hugger”. The New Mexico Department of Fish and Wildlife and hired a so-called “bear hugger” who “has the guts to crawl into a bear hole.”

Department posted a vacancy for a conservation specialist on Facebook, stating that viable candidates “should be able to walk in stressful conditions”, crawl into bear lairs and trust that their colleagues will keep them safe.

They acknowledge that “not all law enforcement field work is this glamorous”, but that it is “an experience of a lifetime”.

A conservation officer patrols the state to enforce game and fish laws. But in addition to law enforcement, they also conduct wildlife surveys. Another part of the job: capturing what the department calls “problem animals.”

Officers will also investigate wildlife damage, help develop new regulations, relocate wildlife, and educate the public about wildlife.

Applicants must have a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, Police Science or Law Enforcement, Natural Resources Conservation, Environmental Science, or similar fields such as Criminal Justice, Geography, Physics, Psychology, Zoology, or others.

Applicants can apply until March 30, after which the lengthy process begins. Applicants take a physical and written wilderness exam, are interviewed, and receive their uniform. The start date will be May 15, when extensive preparations will begin.

While the department advertised the job as a “bear hugger” who might have to crawl in a lair, they said it was just one example of what conservationists have done in the past. “PS do not recommend climbing into bear dens,” they wrote on Facebook.

The department shared photos of conservation officers holding bears, saying, “This was part of a research project in northern New Mexico and all bears were handled safely under supervision.”

“PPS Don’t feed the bears,” they added.

As part of the research project, conservation officials studied bear movements and population dynamics, department spokesman Darren Vaughan told CBS News. He said that conservation officers not only need to have a strong work ethic, but also the ability to work in remote locations, and “a sense of adventure is a must.”

He said the hugging bears post was intended to “share some of the great things they’re doing in hopes of attracting more interested and qualified candidates.”

IN new Facebook post on Monday, The department said conservation officers are also “professional deer protectors.” As spring approaches, officers will respond to numerous reports of deer cubs often left unattended by their mothers. They urged people to stay away from lonely fawns as their mother would return to feed and raise them.

“The calls our officers receive usually come from someone who has picked up a fawn and thinks it has been abandoned,” the department said in a statement. “This makes it extremely difficult for the fawn to reunite with its mother, which creates additional stress for the fawn.” They said more officers were needed to keep wildlife safe and encouraged those interested to apply.

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