An orphaned bear cub was captured at Santa Fe National Cemetery and taken to a wildlife sanctuary last week, the day after its mother was fatally struck by an unidentified driver on Rosario Boulevard.
State gaming officials believe a second wandering bear cub is still roaming the area.
The small female captured was seen on September 9 in a tree in the national cemetery.
State Game and Fish Department agents used a dart gun to tranquilize the bear, then climbed a ladder to carry it down.
They have taken the little one to the Cottonwood veterinary clinic in Española, where he will be prepared for release into the wild.
It’s good that the cub was caught quickly, said Kathleen Ramsay, a veterinarian who oversees the clinic’s wildlife rehabilitation center, as cubs that roam the neighborhoods looting bird feeders don’t learn. often not eating the foods necessary to survive in the wild.
“What she needs to learn to eat is important,” Ramsay said.
At the center, all but most essential human contact with bears is avoided, she said, explaining that if bears become comfortable with people, they are more likely to approach them outdoors. , which is dangerous.
The cub was named Bonita and is associated with a cub named Pooh Bear, recently recovered from Jemez Springs, Ramsay said. The two will be trained together to live in the wild and then they will be released in tandem, she added.
Typically, two cubs that have bonded in this way will stay together for about a year, alerting each other to any impending threats – the biggest being adult bears – before going their separate ways, Ramsay said.
“If we can release them in pairs during their first year of life, they’ll do so much better,” Ramsay said.
Like hibernation, mating and birthing bears work like clockwork in New Mexico, she said. Cubs are born between late November and early December, which makes it easy to determine their age.
Ramsay said she was taking a cub’s mother’s place by teaching them what to eat.
She pruns branches of acorns and white cherry trees and hangs them in the little ones’ cages to imitate the trees they will meet.
She also put plants with rose hips in their enclosures and left rotting logs in a field so that the cubs could tear them up to find insects, a main food source for the bears.
“We’re working really hard to make sure these bears are trained on what they need to do to stay alive,” Ramsay said. “And our success has been pretty good.”
One year, the radio follow-up was done on 56 yearlings that were released, and all but two were at least 2 years old, she said.
She usually releases her young in early January, after the end of the hunting season and the start of annual hibernation. This way the bears will crawl in a den until May.
The Santa Fe cub could be released in January if it reaches at least 110 pounds, giving it enough girth to get through June, when bear food is scarce, Ramsay said.
As for the mother bear who was killed, the carcass was sold to a local buyer to use for fur and meat, said Tristanna Bickford, spokesperson for the Hunting and Fishing Department of the State.
Some of the fur was placed in live capture traps in an attempt to attract cubs, Bickford added.
The agency is still searching for the second orphaned cub but has not heard of any sightings, she said. A cub probably won’t get as far as an adult bear, which increases the chances that it is still in the Santa Fe area.
“But you can never really guess with the wild animals where they are going and why they are going there,” Bickford said.