The mama bear with cub in tow that an alert angler photographed Aug. 4 swimming across Navajo Lake is one well-traveled ursine.
The bear was captured four times and possibly five times in less than a month in a rural residential area east of Albuquerque starting in October 2002, Dan Williams with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish said Monday.
Each time she was relocated to a different place, Williams said, but she kept returning. The last release was in New Mexicos Zuni Mountains between Grants and Gallup and almost 200 miles from Navajo Lake.
We hadnt heard about her since then, not until she turned up in Navajo Lake, Williams said.
Williams said the bear was fitted with a radio collar the first time she was captured.
The collar was found on someones porch, Williams said.
Theo Stein with Colorado Division Parks and Wildlife said bears have a range of 10 to 250 square-miles, depending on the quality of the habitat.
Weve seen bears return to familiar ground from 100 miles, Stein said.
Bears live an average of 10 years, Stein said. But they can live up to 30 years.
Patt Dorsey, area manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Durango, said relocated bears can return quickly to their old stomping grounds.
Its biologist humor, but when we relocate a bear we say, If I look around I may see it passing me on the way back.
In general, New Mexico is more tolerant than Colorado with problem bears, Williams said. A troublesome bear isnt put down until it has three strikes against it in New Mexico.
Williams said the state has euthanized 147 bears so far this year. Drought and wildfires have wiped out the natural food bears consume, he said.