Orphaned cub placed in hibernation

January 2, 2008 10:50:30 PM PST
An orphaned bear cub is getting a second chance at life in the wild. The cub was released into the forest near Tahoe today. The Department of Fish and Game says the time is right for the cub to take care of itself.

This metal cage is a halfway house for a black bear cub on her way from captivity to the wild.

A spoonful of strawberry jelly helps get her in position for a sedating injection before she's removed from the cage.

"It's really unusual for an orphaned cub to have a chance of growing up a true wild bear," said Jeff Brown from UC Berkeley.

A UC Berkeley research team in Tahoe and the Department of Fish and Game worked together to help this bear.

The one-year-old cub was rescued after her mother was hit by a car near Truckee in September.

She's been carefully cared for to maximize her chances of survival in the wild.

"You try to minimize the contact with people -- no contact with people would be the best. You feed it natural foods and you keep it in a dark environment," said Jason Holley from the Department of Fish and Game.

And naming the cub was not allowed.

"We don't name the bears, we try to keep it non-anthropomorphic as possible to use a big word. We don't want it to turn into a pet, it's a wild animal," said Holley.

Last year's drought meant more and more bears looking for food in the urban areas around Tahoe, where they can be hit by cars or shot by frightened residents.

The Department of Fish and Game says there were at least four cubs orphaned in Tahoe last summer.

A radio transmitter on her ear will allow researchers to track this cub for about a year. But she shouldn't be going anywhere for a while. She was released today into a man-made hibernation den, where she's expected to stay until spring.


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