Bear Canyon Open Space stretches from Tramway to Juan Tabo and features a public art piece by Reynaldo Rivera called Los Osos del Canyon, which translate to The Bears of the Canyon.
The piece commissioned in 1995 depicts a life-sized bronze mama bear playing with her two cubs propped on a boulder, located just a few yards northwest of Manitoba and Tramway.
The artist is known for some pretty controversial local pieces such as Don Juan de Oñate, ‘The Last Conquistador’ outside of the Albuquerque Museum, which was taken down when the movement for racial justice spurred local protests in June 2020 ending in chaos, as many historical figures depictions were protested throughout the country, and their continued praise in public art form was questioned.
Rivera said in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal “I understand this is a byproduct of the movement for justice for the killings of African-Americans by white police, and I support that move for justice. I believe Black lives matter. I believe Native American lives matter. But justice is not just for them. Hispano/Mexican American lives also matter. I matter. And my art matters, Rivera explained.
“I do think it’s wrong to destroy or remove controversial art. Just like I don’t believe controversial books should be burned,” he said.
Los Osos del Canyon invites the public to interact with the Bear Canyon Open Space area and gets people out on their feet to come see what this art piece is about in nature. Many locals commute through the trails to get to the foothills and can be accessed the surrounding residential streets.
Sandia Mountains do have a small population of Black Bears estimated to be 50 to 73 but dwindling resources as well as relocation and hunting practices have vastly changed the populations in the Sandias and Manzanos in the last few decades.
According to cabq.gov, “the low reproduction rate of this vulnerable species cannot biologically sustain high attrition. Only caring, proactive residents can stop the complete decimation of Sandia’s bear population.”
The Bear Facts:
- Bears are intelligent, resourceful, and amazing!
- Black bears are naturally shy and very wary of people. Their normal response to any perceived danger is to run away.
- Over 90% of a bear’s natural diet is grasses, berries, fruits, plants, and nuts (acorns). 10% is insects and scavenged carcasses.
- Bears are not naturally nocturnal, but frequently forage at night in hopes of avoiding humans.
- In 2011-2013, 2,269 bears in New Mexico were killed by hunters and depredation calls out of an unknown “guesstimated” of 5,000-7,000 bears. This did not include high natural die-off in drought years.
- NM’s female bears (sows) are 5-7 years old before they have their first cub. This is the slowest reproduction among all species in New Mexico.
- Even though bears are unusually good mothers, in NM, there is a 50% attrition of cubs in the first year.
- In New Mexico, most bears are active from mid-April through mid-November until their 5-to-6-month torpor (hibernation).
- Keep bear-spray with you when hiking or camping in bear country.
— Information from cabq.gov.
For more info on where to find Los Osos Public Art Piece, go to
For more information on local bears, check out: https://www.sandiamountainbearwatch.org/all_about_bears.html