Orphan cubs have a better chance of living, thanks to the combined efforts of Utah State University, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and the National Center Predator Research Center USDA Wildlife Research.
Each year, the Department of Wildlife Resources coordinates the relocation and rehabilitation of young bears who appear orphaned and in need of care. The bears are transported to the predator research facility in Millville, where they receive veterinary care and enough food to prepare them for life in the wild.
Orphan bears usually arrive at the facility around the end of June. Data from wildlife rehabilitation efforts have shown that in August or September, bears are strong enough to fend for themselves. This year was different. Darren DeBloois, marine mammal coordinator for the UDWR, said the little one was underweight and dehydrated.
“Normally at this time of year they weigh 60 pounds, something like that. And that’s, it’s big enough, they can survive on their own. This one was about half of that. It just seemed small. So we thought, let’s feed him for a while, a few months, and then we’ll let him go again, ”DeBloois said.
As she gains strength and grows at the Predator Research Center, the cub has everything a young bear needs – except a playmate. Dr. Julie Young, biologist from wildlife oversight research at the facility, said cubs do best when there is more than one.
“Cubs are often born in a litter with several siblings. And so that’s where they really learn to interact with other bears, to socialize, to play, you know, and a big part of the game is learning how to do things, ”Young said.
Despite the little one’s stature, Young said she was doing well. This bear will likely remain at the facility until October, when it will be released back into the wild with time to explore its surroundings before settling down to hibernate for the winter.