CDFW Successfully Returns Yearling Bear to the Wild in Southern Kern County

Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Victoria Monroe, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (661) 391-6087

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has successfully returned a yearling black bear back to the Los Padres National Forest near Lebec.

The male cub was found in distress near the town of Lebec in August 2013. A wildlife officer safely captured the cub and it was transported by CDFW staff to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care facility for rehabilitation.

Lebec bear release
Lebec bear release

“People frequently encounter young wild animals such as bears and assume they need assistance or have been orphaned,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Marc Kenyon. “In most cases, they should be left alone. Any intervention with young wildlife should be left to CDFW staff or permitted wildlife rehabilitators. This is the best way to ensure that wildlife stays in the wild.”

To be eligible for rehabilitation, a cub must still be dependent upon its mother and not habituated to humans. CDFW works with rehabilitation centers like the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Center. The non-profit center relies completely on donations for their services. At the facility, cubs learn how forage for natural bear food such as berries, acorns, fish, grubs and insects. Human contact is kept to a minimum or is non-existent. By the time the yearling bears leave, each has quadrupled its size or more, to 50-80 pounds, depending upon body type.

“More than ever, it’s important for residents living in bear country to be diligent about keeping potential food sources away from them and living responsibly in bear country,”
said CDFW Environmental Scientist Victoria Monroe. “With responsible residents, this yearling cub will have a greater chance of survival as a healthy, wild black bear.”

Upon release, each cub is given a final health checkup that includes taking hair and blood samples.

In most circumstances, CDFW recommends that people leave wildlife alone, including removing attractants from their properties. If this is not an option, contact CDFW for guidance. For more information and how to live responsibly in bear habitat, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/bear.html.