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SANTA FE, N.M. - Conservation Officer James Martinez picked up three bears in Santa Fe Tuesday and moved them out to the Jemez Mountains, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish reported Tuesday.

Officer Martinez's three bears included a sow that was reunited with its cub and another female bear caught napping in a back yard after dining on a bag of trash.

The cub had been caught earlier in a large raccoon trap in a foothills neighborhood along Old Santa Fe Trail. Martinez then held it overnight in the front portion of a metal bear trap hoping that its mother would come looking for her errant offspring.

Tuesday morning, Martinez received a call from the residence where the trap and cub had been left. The homeowners had seen a female bear and she was waiting for him in a large tree where a male bear had been tranquilized last week.

After darting the black-colored female and reuniting it with her brown-hued cub, Martinez responded to a report of a sleeping bear in a Tesuque yard.

Although the bear was no longer sleeping when Officer Martinez arrived, she was moving slowly. Martinez quickly darted the bear in the hip and she ran up the nearest cottonwood tree. She climbed higher than he wanted her to, but he used three noisemakers to keep her from advancing higher before the drugs took effect.

The 143-pound female bear fell from the tree and was taken to the Wildlife Center in Espanola for an examination before being released in the Jemez Mountains.

"She was an old lady," said Dr. Kathleen Ramsay, veterinarian at the clinic. "She was probably 12 to 14 years old, but she was fleshed out beautifully. She should do just hunky-dory."

"Bears are very resilient animals," Martinez said. "They can fall quite a ways without being injured."

There was no evidence she was nursing cubs this year and it is typical for bears to reproduce only every other year.

The Tesuque homeowner said she always has bears around her property and a quick examination found a few reasons why.

Her plastic trash can was not secured in a metal building or the garage just a few feet away.

She has fruit trees on her property and during the late summer and early fall bears conduct an almost constant search for food in preparation for hibernating.

A stack of firewood was adjacent to her house. Rodents often live in woodpiles and bears consider them food.

The house also had a barbecue grill near the spot where the bear had been sleeping. Even if a grill has not been used for a year, it can still smell like food to a bear.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish provides homeowners with a handy list of other tips to reduce visits from black bears, our state mammal. It's called "Keeping Bears Alive - And You Safe."

To request this brochure, call the Santa Fe office of the Department of Game and Fish at (505) 476-8000.





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