Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cougar enters N.M. town, is captured and released into wild

Louis Calderon, El Defensor Chieftain Intern

It wasn't just a regular day as people began arriving at Magdalena City Hall on Monday to begin their daily routines. Instead, people arrived to quite an eventful morning.

Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley was summoned to City Hall around 8 a.m. in regards to a 70-pound yearling male mountain lion that was spotted in a tree nearby. It wasn't long until a crowd gathered to see what all the commotion was about.

Cearley said he tried to keep the mountain lion up in the tree until help arrived, but the mountain lion became startled with all of the people. The mountain lion jumped out of the tree and ran southeast past the Western Motel.

"I followed the phone calls and screams to Second Street, where the lion ran past Dennis Aldrich and Bobby Mexicano at the United States Forest Service," Cearley said.

Cearley said the mountain lion then began to run toward the Magdalena schools. The mountain lion was unable to jump the fence, so it finally came to rest in an abandoned pigpen nearby.

Sgt. Bobby Griego, of the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish in Magdalena, arrived at the scene and shot the mountain lion with a tranquilizer dart. It was then taken away in a trap cage until the tranquilizer wore off.

The mountain lion was transplanted to Unit 13, north of Magdalena, and released back into the wild on Monday afternoon. Griego said there was really no difficulty in capturing the mountain lion.

This wasn't the only event in Magdalena involving a wild animal in recent days. A 150-pound black bear climbed a utility pole on June 17 and caused a power outage.

Unlike the mountain lion, the bear wasn't captured and released back into the wild, because it died when it was electrocuted.

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