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Bear’s soft landing ends visit to ABQ

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After being darted, a snoozing black bear lies on the ground in the Towne Park Plaza on Wednesday, as Game and Fish officers prepare to relocate the animal. (Rick Nathanson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It had to be done, or he would never have left paradise.

New Mexico Game and Fish officers, assisted by Albuquerque police officers, darted a healthy, 200-pound male bear that was hiding in a cottonwood tree in the plaza of the Towne Park community on Wednesday afternoon.

“He was about 30 feet up, but after we darted him he went higher so he actually fell from about 40 feet onto a bearbag,” plopping to the earth on a large air-filled pillow like a Hollywood stuntman, said Sgt. Rick Castell of Game and Fish.

“He didn’t have any ear tags so when we caught him we tagged him for the first time and will take him somewhere into a forest and release him there, maybe to the Santa Fe National Forest or someplace farther north. That’s still to be determined.”

APD and Game and Fish had been searching for the bear in the Eubank and Chico NE area since about 3 a.m. when they got a call from a resident who saw the animal rifling through garbage containers in search of treats. When the officers located him a short time later, the wily bruin lumbered off into the darkness.

The bear was spotted lounging in a cottonwood tree Wednesday afternoon by a landscaper working in the Towne Park Plaza.

“It is not uncommon to see bears in town occasionally, and they are generally not aggressive,” Castell said. “It becomes more frequent as we get later into the summer because they want to fatten up before they go to den again.”

The state’s drought may not even be a factor, he said.

“A lot of the forests have been shut down, but they have been getting some rain so there is forage up there,” Castell said. “But bears do move from place to place and they sometimes come into town for forage.”

Longtime Towne Park resident Marion Treon, said she was raised in the East Mountains area, “so I’m familiar with how to act around bears and I have a very healthy respect for them.”

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A large male black bear was found lounging in the high branches of a cottonwood tree in the Towne Park community Wednesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy APD)

The black bear – actually more of a cinnamon color – looked like it was quite content to stay in the Towne Park Plaza, she said.

“It’s heaven for a bear here. There’s a pond with fish in it, and there’s ducks and trees and shade. And with all the Fi-Fis and Foo-Foos in the backyards, he’d love it and might never leave.”

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