By Thomas Garcia: Freedom Newspapers
UTE LAKE — His name is not Yogi, and he was not stealing picnic baskets.
Nevertheless, a 2 1/2-year-old black bear gave park rangers and a game warden a little trouble Friday before he was caught at the Ute Lake State Park.
After being spotted in the park for the past three days, the bear was captured at Windy Point, camp Park superintendent Rodney Paris said.
“We closed sections of the park when we were trying to catch the bear,” Paris said. “No area was closed off for an extended period, and at no time were any park visitors or nearby citizens in any danger.”
The bear weighed between 100 and 150 pounds, according to Tucumcari district game warden Josh Waldrip.
Waldrip shot the bear with a tranquilizer gun, which enabled officials to catch the bear. The bear will be relocated 130 miles away from Logan, Waldrip said.
“The reason we send the bear so far away is that they are known to return to the areas they frequent,” Waldrip said. “By placing the bear so far away, it discourages them from trying to return.”
There have been a few bears reported north of Logan and around the Conchas area, but they are seldom reported in Logan, Waldrip said. “This was the first call I have received for a bear in Logan.”
The bear was spotted Wednesday in the Rogers camp area on the north side of the lake.
“With the expanding population, people are starting to move into areas where bears have established a habitat and an encounter is bound to happen,” said New Mexico Game and Fish public information assistant chief Lance Cherry.
There have been few bear encounters in Ute Lake State Park in the past, park manager Chester Gurule said.
A young black bear bit and scratched a 13-year-old boy July 8 in Sugarite Canyon State Park, about five miles northeast of Raton, according to a press release on the New Mexico Game and Fish Web site.
It was the first time in 22 years a camper had been bitten or scratched by a bear in the state park, the release said.
Campers need to take precautions in bear country to avoid unpleasant encounters with animals, conservation officer Rey Sanchez said in the release.
Bear necessities for survival
• Stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may consider that a threat.
• Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.
• If the bear has not seen you, stay calm and slowly move away, making noise so the bear knows you are there.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
• Keep your tent and sleeping bag free of all food smells. Store the clothes you wore while cooking or eating with your food.
• Sleep a good distance from your cooking area or food storage site.
• Remove bird feeders. Bears see them as sweet treats, and often they will look for other food sources nearby.
• Keep garbage in airtight containers inside your garage or storage area. Occasionally clean cans with ammonia or bleach.
• Never put meat or sweet-smelling food scraps such as melon in your compost pile.
• Don’t leave pet food or food dishes outdoors at night.
• Clean and store outdoor grills after use. Bears can smell barbecue sauce and grease for miles.
Source: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish