Raton dumpster bear rescued from power pole

Posted at: 07/24/2013 11:15 AM
Updated at: 07/24/2013 11:21 AM

Officers darted the bear, but as she fell asleep and began to fall, her collar from a previous capture caught on a large bolt.
Officers darted the bear, but as she fell asleep and began to fall, her collar from a previous capture caught on a large bolt.
Photo: Courtesy: Dept. of Game and Fish/Clint Hensor

RATON, N.M. – A female bear known to eat from a dumpster behind the Sonic Drive-In is lucky to be alive today following a harrowing rescue from the top of a power pole.

New Mexico Game and Fish responded to a report of an electrocuted bear on Sunday night. Upon arrival, officers found the bear--still alive--atop a power pole.

According to Game and Fish, the bear had been foraging for food all day in Raton. Officers darted the bear, but as she fell asleep and began to fall, her collar from a previous capture caught on a large bolt.

A bucket truck crew from the Raton Public Service Department was able to free the bear from the bolt and lower her to the ground. The bear was fitted with a second ear tag and placed in a transport cage for relocation.

"With such a huge available food source from Raton's dumpsters, I expect she'll return pretty quickly," Officer Clint Henson said.

The bear was caught in the same area July 16 and was fitted with a radio tracking collar in cooperation with New Mexico Highlands University to study her movements.

The City of Raton has been plagued for years by bears that have grown accustomed to an easy food source in the city's large number of dumpsters. Henson and other wildlife biologists estimate that 30 bears live in and around Raton, most of them sleeping through the days and raiding dumpsters at nights.

Game and Fish offered to buy $317,000 worth of bear-proof dumpsters for the city, but city officials turned it down, according to the department.