New Mexico Game and Fish euthanized less than 100 black bears last year, this year at the beginning of October the number is 226 and climbing. So far this year, 638 black bears have been killed. For the previous two years, the total was a little over 400 for each year.
New Mexico Game and Fish conservation officer Matt Pengelly has euthanized his share. He removed one bear that had gotten into a storage basement at Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina at Taos Ski Valley. The bear had been sniffing around for a month, and then broke through a door and tore the top off a freezer. Pengelly does not believe the bear has much chance of survival since it has such low body mass, but he will take it and release it. Pengelly believes his job is to protect the wildlife and sometimes that also means protecting animals from suffering. Recently a bear that had been tranquillized fell and broke its leg, Pengelly had to euthanize it. Some people think that is barbaric, but there are also those who believe every bear should be shot.
Why are so many bears being killed this year? There are a number of factors according to Game and Fish bear biologist Rick Winslow. “Bears that are habituated to human food will continue to come into town regardless of natural conditions such as drought,” Winslow said in an email. “We also have a large bear population at the moment due to conservative harvest strategies and good environmental conditions leading to good breeding success for the last six years.”
Justin Janowick the bartender at Tim's Stray Dog Cantina may sum it up best when he says, “I’m on the fence about what to do about bears. On the one hand, they’re a nuisance when there’s no food, but hearing him yowling in that cage you know he’s just trying to survive. In that way, I guess we’re all in the same boat.” From The Taos News .