Rangers catch bear at Ute Lake

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

His name is not Yogi, and he was not stealing picnic baskets.

Nevertheless, a black bear gave park rangers and a game warden a little trouble Friday in Logan.

A 2 1/2-year-old black bear was caught at the Ute Lake State Park in Logan Friday morning, said park superintendent Rodney Paris.
“The bear was captured at the Windy Point camp after being spotted for the past three days,” said Paris.

“We closed sections of the park when we were trying to catch the bear. No area was closed off for an extended period and at no time were any park visitors or nearby citizens in any danger,” Paris said.

The bear weighed between 100 and 150 pounds, said Tucumcari district game warden Josh Waldrip.

The game warden shot the bear with a tranquilizer gun. After it was sedated, the bear was transported by boat and then turned over to a Pecos game warden to be relocated 130 miles away from Logan, said Waldrip.

Waldrip said the capture was a cooperative effort between officers of the park and the Logan Police Department.

There are a few bears that are reported north of Logan and around the Conchas area but very seldom do any calls come in about a bear in Logan, said Waldrip.

“The reason we send the bear so far away is that they are known to return to the areas they frequent,” said Waldrip.

“By placing the bear so far away, it discourages them from trying to return. This was the first call I have received for a bear in Logan.”
The bear was first spotted in the Rogers camp area located on the north side of the lake on Wednesday.

The local police department, state park personnel and a New Mexico Game Warden located, sedated and then relocated the bear.
“There has been a lot of bear encounters in New Mexico in the past year,” said New Mexico Game and Fish Public Information Assistant Chief Lance Cherry.

“With the expanding population people are starting to move into areas where bears have established a habitat and an encounter is bound to happen.”

There have not been many bear encounters in Ute Lake State Park in the past, said Park Manager Chester Gurule.
On July 8, a young black bear bit and scratched a 13-year-old boy in Sugarite Canyon State Park about five miles northeast of Raton, according to press release on the New Mexico Game and Fish Web site.

It was the first time in 22 years that a camper had been bitten or scratched by a bear in the state park, Park Superintendent Bob Dye said in the release.

Campers need to take precautions in bear country to avoid unpleasant encounters with animals, Conservation officer Rey Sanchez said in the release.

The department recently has been getting more calls in the Raton area about bears coming off the mountains in search of food, Sanchez said in early July.

“It’s that time of year when the bears have run out of food up high – all the early growth is gone and the berries and acorns haven’t come on yet,” said Sanchez in the release. “Once they can get to the berries and acorns, they should head back up.”

If you see a bear
l Stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may consider that a threat.
l Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.
l If the bear has not seen you, stay calm and slowly move away, making noise so the bear knows you are there.
l Do not run. Make yourself appear large by holding out your jacket. If you have small children, pick them up so they don’t run.
l Give the bear plenty of room to escape, so it doesn’t feel threatened or trapped. If you are on a trail, step off on the downhill side and slowly move away.
l If a black bear attacks you, fight back using anything at your disposal, such as rocks, sticks, binoculars or even your bare hands. Aim for the bear’s nose and eyes.

If you camp or live in bear country
l Keep your camp clean, and store food and garbage properly at all times. Use bear-proof containers when available. If not, suspend food, coolers and garbage from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet out from the tree trunk.
l Keep your tent and sleeping bag free of all food smells. Store the clothes you wore while cooking or eating with your food.
l Sleep a good distance from your cooking area or food storage site.
l Store toiletries with your food.
l Remove bird feeders. Bears see them as sweet treats, and often they will look for other food sources nearby.
l Keep garbage in airtight containers inside your garage or storage area. Place garbage outside in the morning just before pickup, not the night before. Occasionally clean cans with ammonia or bleach.
l Never put meat or sweet-smelling food scraps such as melon in your compost pile.
l Don’t leave pet food or food dishes outdoors at night.
l Clean and store outdoor grills after use. Bears can smell sweet barbecue sauce and grease for miles.
l Never intentionally feed bears to attract them for viewing. If you intentionally feed a bear and the bear becomes a nuisance, you could be cited and fined up to $500 – and the bear eventually may have to be killed.