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Group concerned about NM bear management

Conservationists are accusing state wildlife managers of trying to eliminate the black bear population in the mountains that border Albuquerque.

Sandia Mountain BearWatch contends state Game and Fish Department logs show the agency has trapped and either removed or killed 49 bears between 2010 and 2011.

The group accuses the agency of trying to remove the animals to reduce the number of nuisance calls.

The agency disputes the accusations, saying the number of bears removed or killed by vehicles stands at less than 20 for the two years.

Department biologist Rick Winslow maintains that it's not the agency's mission to eliminate bears.

Jan Hayes of the BearWatch group says the agency's policies are based on inflated estimates of bear populations and that the Sandia Mountains need a healthy population to maintain an ecological balance.