The Bear Mountains lie just north of the village of Magdalena and north of the Magdalena Mountains in New Mexico. The Bear Mountains are located within the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. There are two Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA) within the Bear Mountains: the Scott Mesa IRA (39,534 acres) and the Goat Spring IRA (5,757 acres). The Bureau of Land Management’s Sierra Ladrones Wilderness Study Area (45,308 acres) stretches to the northeast of the Bear Mountains and connects the Bear Mountains with the 230,000-acre Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge to the east. The world-renowned Very Large Array lies to the southwest of the Bear Mountains.
Robert Julyan's The Place Names of New Mexico notes that "bear" names throughout New Mexico frequently come from a particular incident with a bear rather than a general abundance of bears because "any encounter with a bear likely would have been memorable." Even so, the range is currently home to black bears, and grizzly bears were once found the area as well.
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