New Mexico bear sanctuary overrun with cubs

ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico bear sanctuary is overrun with cubs. They say it’s a rare mix of a high birth rate, a late freeze and car crashes.

The last time they had this problem was more than a decade ago, and they say it’s a nightmare.

There’s a lot of cubs living at Cottonwood Rehab in Rio Arriba County.

“We are having a nightmare. This year of 2017 is going to mimic the year of 2001,” Dr. Kathleen Ramsay said.

The cubs have been surprising people all across New Mexico, including one found all the way in northwest Albuquerque Thursday that had people wondering how he got there.

Dr. Ramsay says it’s a rare combination of things.

“New Mexico had an incredible year last year,” Dr. Ramsay said. “Nearly every female bear out there was carrying enough weight that she could get pregnant.”

Sows can have one to four cubs. However, finding enough food has been a problem for all those bears.

“Go out there and find me acorns. They’re not because of the late, late freeze,” Dr. Ramsay said.

The hunt for food has them coming down into the city.

“They’re coming out of the mountains, following the arroyos, looking for food, heading down to the rivers where there’s typically more food at this time of the year,” Dr. Ramsay explained.

However, that long journey has been a dangerous one for these cubs.

No one else will get to see the cubs at Cottonwood Rehab in person, except Dr. Ramsay, while she works to prepare them for the wild again.

“We will have all of these cubs 85 to 100 pounds by end of November where we can put out for hibernation. These cubs at least have a chance to survive,” she said.

The grocery bill for each cub is around $5,000.

The rehab center could use some help. To donate, click here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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