Watch CBS News

New Mexico is hiring professional "bear huggers"

Family of bears try to figure out hammock
Family of bears try to figure out hammock 00:46

Looking for a job? If you like wildlife and don't mind dealing with "problem animals," then you could work as a "bear hugger." The New Mexico Department of Fish and Game and hiring a so-called "bear hugger" that has "the courage to crawl into a bear den."

The department posted the job opening for conservation officers on Facebook, saying that viable applicants "must have ability to hike in strenuous conditions," crawl into bear dens, and trust that their coworkers will keep them safe. 

They acknowledge that "not all law enforcement field work is this glamorous," but that this 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."

Now hiring professional bear huggers. Must have ability to hike in strenuous conditions, have the courage to crawl...

Posted by New Mexico Department of Game and Fish on Monday, March 13, 2023

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

Applicants are required to have a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences, police science or law enforcement, natural resources conservation, ecology, or similar fields like criminal justice, geography, physics, psychology, zoology, or others.

Those interested have until March 30 to apply, then a lengthy process begins. Applicants are assessed with a physical and written wildlife exam, interviewed and receive their uniforms. The start date would be May 15, when extensive training would begin. 

While the department advertised the job as a "bear hugger" who may have to crawl in dens, they said that is just one example of what conservation officers have done in the past. "P.S. we do not recommend crawling into bear dens," they wrote on Facebook. 

The department shared images 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." 

"P.P.S. Don't feed the bears," they added.

During the research project, conservation officers studied bear movements and population dynamics, the department spokesperson Darren Vaughan, told CBS News. He said not only must conservation officers have a strong work ethic, but the ability to work in remote locations and that a "sense of adventure is a must."

He said the bear hugger post was meant to "share some of the great things they do in hopes of getting more interested and qualified applicants." 

In a new Facebook post Monday, the department said conservation officers are also "professional deer protectors." As spring nears, officers will respond to many reports about baby deer, often left unattended by their mothers. They urged people to stay away from lone fawns, as their mother will return to feed and nurture it. 

"The calls our officers receive are usually from someone who picked up a fawn who thinks it's been abandoned," the department said in the post. "This makes it extremely difficult to reunite the fawn with the mother, which puts additional stress on the fawn." They said more officers are needed to help keep wildlife safe, and encouraged those interested to apply.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.