New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 18, 2007:

VISITING HOURS ARE OVER: HOSPITAL BEAR RELOCATED TO MANZANO MOUNTAINS

RIO RANCHO -- Department of Game and Fish officers tranquilized and removed a young black bear from inside Presbyterian Hospital in Rio Rancho about 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Conservation Officer Darrell Cole described the incident as a "typical bear call" with a remarkably happy ending, especially considering it happened during rush hour. The bear, a 125-pound male estimated to be two to three years old, was transported and released in the Manzano Mountains later Friday morning.

"What was great about it was that at 7:30 a.m. when everybody was on the way to work or to school, the bear went into a building. He was contained," Cole said. "We were able to dart him and easily move him out of harm's way. If it had been outside, he could have run off and got hit by a car."

Cole said the bear could have made its way into Rio Rancho from the Jemez Mountains or the Manzano Mountains after it was displaced by its mother or a more dominant bear. It appeared to be in good health, although somewhat underweight, which is typical of a young bear in the springtime.

The bear apparently was able to enter the hospital by hitting an automatic door opener. A few witnesses inside said the bear did not threaten anyone or damage anything. Once inside, it retreated into a side room while Rio Rancho Police and Animal Control officers evacuated the immediate area. The bear retreated further into a restroom and was sedated within about a minute after it was darted by Game and Fish officers Cole and John Martsh.

"I guess if you're going to be darted with tranquilizer you might as well get it done in a hospital," Cole said.

The Department of Game and Fish reminds people who live in or near bear country to take precautions to avoid encounters with black bears. Some tips:

###