Note that in New Mexico problem bear can be taken by hunters. The Division of Parks and wildlife needs to have that flexibility in Colorado. J.Paul
Durango Herald Aug. 14, 2011
Fires, drought push bears into N.M. cities
BY JERI CLAUSING
ALBUQUERQUE – Displaced by fires and short on food after months of drought, state game officials say bears in search of a good meal are heading into the cities in unusually high numbers this summer.
In just the last week, a bear and her cub crashed a wedding at an exclusive Taos resort. A few days later, a bear was caught munching on fruit trees in a Santa Fe neighborhood. About 60 miles down the road, a bear was rescued from a tree in an Albuquerque neighborhood. And earlier this summer, a bear was caught on video checking garbage cans at the governor's mansion.
"There are bears everywhere," said Dan Williams, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. "It's a little busier this year than most for various reasons: We've had fires, we've had drought, we've had extreme heat. All of that has impacted the food source for the bears up high. Right now is when the bears really start trying to pack on weight for the winter. They are hungry, hungry. It's all about food for them right now. They will go to the easiest source of food right now – or any food."
Twenty-six bears have been trapped and released back into the wild, Williams said. A record number – 147 – have been euthanized, 11 have been harvested by hunters and another 17 have killed on roads or other accidents.
Additionally, game and fish officers have brought 21 bears to the Wildlife Center in Española this year, about two-thirds of which are cubs orphaned by fires and the drought.
"There's no food. So there's a lot bears," said Katherine Eagleson, executive director of the nonprofit rehabilitation refuge. "We've gotten some that have been burned by the fire and some that have gotten separated from their moms and some that are just hungry."
Eagleson said the center has been able to release three bears back to the wild. One had to be euthanized while another, a 13- or 14-year-old female from the Las Conchas fire, is recovering from third-degree burns on all four paws and second- degree burns on other parts of her body.
Williams said in addition to the fires and drought, there also are more bears than usual.
"Our large carnivore biologist tells me that one of the reasons we are seeing so many bears this year is because the bears had a real good reproductive year going into this and the last couple of years," he said. "So there is a lot of offspring out there. In other words, there are just a lot of bears."
Williams said the bear who was tranquilized after crashing the wedding at El Monte Sagrado Resort on Aug. 6 has been released back into the wild, but her cub has not been found.
J. Paul Brown
Colorado State Representative
House District 59
200 E. Colfax, Room 271
Denver, Colorado 80203