Black bear seen sniffing hiker in Mexico neutered

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TORONTO – Federal officials in Mexico are investigating the castration of a young black bear seen sniffing a woman’s hair in an ecological park last month. The bear was captured by the Mexican environmental protection agency Profepa, which plans to move the animal to another state. The agency says the bear, which weighs 96 kilograms, has become too accustomed to humans because visitors to Chipinque Ecological Park in Nuevo Leon feed it and get too close.

The widely shared video of the bear’s interaction with the hiker shows her stopping with two other women on a paved path when the bear approached her. He was standing behind her, sniffing her hair and pricking her. The video, which made headlines in July, shows him taking a selfie with the bear as onlookers tried to verbally chase him away. He then walked away without hurting anyone.

A statement from Profepa indicates that there have been other close encounters between the bear and humans in the park and the neighborhood around it. Park officials said it was the same bear that followed a woman walking down a street, at one point, wrapping her arms around her leg and pushing her with her nose.

Veterinarians from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon captured the bear, neutered it and fitted it with a tracking collar. The decision to castrate the bear was approved by Profepa’s director general for wildlife control, who argued that the bear should be castrated to prevent it from fighting with other bears once it he would be released in the Sierra de Nido mountain range in Chihuahua.

The castration of the animal is currently being studied by Profepa.

Some social media users have expressed concern for the bear, saying it grew up rummaging in trash cans for food and may not survive in the wild.

An online petition says the bear pays the price for “human recklessness.”

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