DFG Returns Yearling Bears to the Wild

Media Contacts:
Marc Kenyon, DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3515
Dana Michaels, Office of Communications, (916) 322-2420

sedated bear cub in trailer

Sedated bear cub before release. DFG photo by Dana Michaels.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has successfully returned two California black bear yearlings to the remote wilderness near Truckee. Both female cubs were orphaned last summer.

One cub was illegally dumped last June on the front porch of Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League. Weighing only 12 pounds, the cub was emaciated and starving. The other cub was reported by a citizen who kept seeing it alone and bawling, near Markleeville last August. A DFG investigation determined that the bear was an orphan. “It weighed about 30 pounds and was unusually lethargic for a cub,” said Cristen Langner, DFG’s bear biologist in the Tahoe Basin.

Both cubs were taken to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care (LTWC) – a wildlife rehabilitation facility licensed by DFG. While at LTWC, they were fed and housed in a way that prevented them from becoming habituated to humans, so they could be returned to the wild when they were old enough to care for themselves.

DFG Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator Nicole Carion oversaw the cubs’ care and arranged for their release in suitable habitat, away from human activity. DFG staff Ryan Carrothers, Shelly Blair, Marc Kenyon, Sarah Deaton, Cristen Langner and David Casady transported the sedated bears, then placed them in a manmade den at a wild and secluded location nestled in the Sierra Nevadas. The operation concluded as planned with the cooperation of University of California at Berkeley and Sagehen Creek Field Station staff. When released, the two yearlings weighed approximately 70 and 85 pounds.

Marc Kenyon, DFG statewide bear program coordinator, points out that people should never assume a young animal in the wild has been abandoned by its mother. In many cases, human interference with wildlife will result in abandonment by their species, and sometimes their inevitable captivity or death. “In the vast majority of circumstances, cubs or other wildlife that appear to be abandoned are simply being cared for by their mother from afar. She’s usually off obtaining the nutrition required to rear her offspring. But in the rare circumstance when something unfortunate happens, DFG has the ability and expertise to ensure appropriate care for the young until they can be safely released into the wild, such as these cubs. I fully expect them to become wild bears when they wake up in their new home this spring.”

DFG recommends that people leave wildlife alone, including removing attractants from their properties. If this is not an option, contact DFG. For more information, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.

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