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Dumpster-diving bear rescued in Raton

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A female bear known to frequent the Dumpster behind the Sonic Drive-In in Raton had a harrowing escape from the top of a power pole on Sunday as its collar from a previous capture got caught on a bolt, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish said in a news release.

Game and Fish got a call Sunday evening saying a bear had been electrocuted, but when officers arrived they found the bear very much alive atop a power pole.

The bear had been foraging for food all day in Dumpsters all around Raton and climbed the pole, where officers hit it with a tranquilizer dart.

As the bear fell asleep and began to fall, its radio tracking collar — installed when the bear was caught in the same area on July 16 — snagged on a large bolt on the power pole, Game and Fish said.

A bucket truck crew from the Raton Public Service Department was able to extricate the bear and lower her to the ground, where she was fitted with a second ear tag and placed in a transport cage for relocation, the release said.

“With such a huge available food source from Raton’s Dumpsters, I expect she’ll return pretty quickly,” Game and Fish Officer Clint Henson said in the release.

Henson and other wildlife biologists estimate that some 30 bears live in and around Raton, most of them sleeping during the day and raiding Dumpsters by night.

Game and Fish said it had offered the city of Raton some $317,000 worth of bear-proof Dumpsters for the city, but the city turned them down.

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