One female cub is likely bear-y happy to be back in the wild, thanks to the services of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Last week, DWR released an orphaned 9-month-old black bear cub in southern Utah after she was able to bulk up from a few months at a wildlife rehab facility.
Darren DeBloois, DWR game mammals coordinator, said the bear was found lingering around water troughs for a few days and getting into trash cans. Usually the mother bear is nearby, but with no sign of another adult — and the cub being underweight for its age — the agency took her into rehabilitation to “fatten it up.”
She was shipped to the National Wildlife Research Center in Cache Valley. The cub was the only bear the center had this year. In some years, DWR has sent up to six to be rehabilitated.
“When we brought her in, she weighed about 30 pounds,” DeBloois said. “When we put her back out in the wild, she weighed 70 pounds, so she gained. She was a fat little bear.”
Caretakers at the facility have little to no contact with the bears they’re rehabilitating, so they won’t become used to human activity or associate people with food. So when it came time to capture the cub again and bring her back to the wilderness, DeBloois said, she “didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” a good sign she hasn’t grown accustomed to humans.
Now that she’s been released, her next step will be to find a den for the winter. Usually cubs spend their first winter in a den with their mother, but in DWR’s experience, the cubs usually do all right alone.
With the help of a GPS tracking collar, DeBloois said, DWR sees that this cub has been making progress in scouting out her own den, right on schedule for winter.