The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is now hiring "professional bear huggers" and "professional deer protectors"—also known as conservation officers. "Must have ability to hike in strenuous conditions, have the courage to crawl into a bear den, and have the trust in your coworkers to keep you safe during the process," the department said in a notice that has been shared on Facebook more than 1,600 times. It included photos of conservation officers hugging bear cubs.
The state is home to around 6,000 black bears, but the department made it clear that bear-hugging won't be the main part of the job, the Guardian reports. "This was part of a research project in northern New Mexico and all bears were handled safely under supervision," the department said. In another post, it said: "If crawling in bear dens was too intimidating for you, we are also hiring professional deer protectors!" "Bambi doesn't have a thing on the real-life version. Which means as spring gets near, our Conservation Officers must respond to many baby deer reports," the department said, explaining that officers receive many calls from people who pick up unattended fawns, mistakenly thinking they are abandoned.
Would-be deer protectors and bear huggers can apply here. The deadline is March 30. The department says applicants need to have a degree in "biological sciences, police science or law enforcement, natural resources conservation, ecology, or related fields," CNN reports. "My son wants to apply but he is 9 haha," one woman commented on the "bear huggers" Facebook post. "Have him come visit us when he is ready!" the department replied. (Read more New Mexico stories.)