Lions and Hikers and Bears, Oh My!

Black bears are frequently seen in communities throughout northern New Mexico, where it is important to know how to safely live and hike among these large mammals. Courtesy photo

Lions and Hikers and Bears, Oh My!

Would you know what to do if you came face-to-face with a large mammal? On Tuesday, May 2, at 7 p.m. wildlife biologist Daryl Ratajczak, one of the leading experts in large carnivore behavior, will share tips for hiking safely in bear country. This free talk, organized by Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), will take place at the Los Alamos Nature Center.

Bear sightings are common in northern New Mexico. With temperatures on the rise, so too are activity levels of some of the forest’s largest natural inhabitants; bears and cougars. Sharing the trails with these peaceful but sometimes intimidating creatures is quite easy and always enjoyable…as long as you know what you’re doing. Daryl Ratajczak’s talk will cover how to hike safely in bear territory. He will also explain why he says there’s really nothing to be afraid of after all.

Daryl Ratajczak is a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Forest Service in the Santa Fe National Forest. Apex predators and other large mega-fauna are his passion and specialty. Prior to joining the Forest Service, Daryl managed a black bear rehab, research, and education facility outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He then went on to work for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and served as the Big Game Program Coordinator managing the state’s bear, deer and elk programs. He eventually became Chief of Wildlife for the state of Tennessee but found the “desk-life” didn’t suit him and decided to pursue his lifelong dream of living and working in the West.

This talk will take place at the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road. It is free to attend, and no registration is required. For more information about this and other PEEC programs, visit, email or call (505) 662-0460.

PEEC was founded in 2000 to serve the community of Los Alamos. It offers people of all ages a way to enrich their lives by strengthening their connections to our canyons, mesas, mountains, and skies. PEEC operates the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road, holds regular programs and events, and hosts a number of interest groups from birding to hiking to butterfly watching. PEEC activities are open to everyone; however, members receive exclusive benefits such as discounts on programs and merchandise. Annual memberships start at $35. To learn more, visit