TUCUMCARI, NEW MEXICO — Carmen Gonzales wasn’t sure what to think at first.
“I was inside and my daughters came in, slammed the door and screamed, ‘There is a bear outside,'” she said.
She thought the girls might be playing with her, but they weren’t.
There was a bear in a neighborhood tree.
About 50 people soon were gathered in the area of South Seventh Street and West McGee Avenue, and the bear settled in for what became a two-hour standoff with city, county and state law officers.
In the end the brown bear was tranquilized by New Mexico Department of Game and Fish wardens.
Marquis Alderete was one of the first to spot the animal, which appeared to weigh about 150 pounds.
“I was on my way home for lunch when I looked over and saw what I thought was a big dog,” Alderete said.
As he walked closer, he realized it was a bear and it took off into a neighbor’s yard and climbed a tree.
That’s about the time Haven and Izabel Gonzales broke the news to their mom.
“I was outside playing and a man told me there was a bear at a house on the corner, so I ran inside,” said Haven, who is 7.
Game and Fish Capt. Clint Henson of Raton said department officials will determine what to do with the bear. He said because it was in a populated area, it will be difficult to relocate it without the possibility of the animal returning.
Henson said the department would consider all options including euthanizing the bear.
The incident began just after 1 p.m. Monday.
Officials said they had no idea where the bear may have come from, but sightings are almost annual events in the region.
Most recent bear sightings have been in the Ute Lake and Conchas Lake areas, but they occasionally find their way into Tucumcari as well.
The last sighting of a bear in Quay County was on June 6 last year, when officials shot and killed a black bear in Logan. That animal had been seen going through residential trash bins over several days.
Game and Fish officials said at the time that once a bear begins to eat human food, the activity becomes habitual and increases the chances of encounters with people.