Orphaned black bear cub headed to Boise for the winter

JACKSON, Wyo. – An orphaned black bear that had made a residential backyard his home in recent days was rescued by authorities from a likely cruel end and given the best chance of survival they could find.

Briefly nicknamed “Hiss” because the cub hissed at family members when he felt threatened, the orphaned black bear is off to a rehab center in Idaho. (Heide McBride)

The black bear cub, estimated by wildlife officials to be about 10 months old and 20 pounds was undersized and malnourished when it showed up at the home of Heide McBride a few days ago. It feasted on crabapples and generally kept out of trouble. When it felt threatened it simply climbed a tree in the backyard.

A call to Wyoming Game and Fish brought bear biologists out. They observed the cub long enough to determine it had no mom around. They prepared a tranquilizer and darted the cub while it was in a tree in the backyard. It didn’t take long for the tiny bruin to start feeling the effects. Wobbling and woozy, he clung to a branch as the drug took effect.

Finally, down he went into a waiting catch blanket. Mission accomplished. It was then off to the Animal Care Clinic in east Jackson while Game and Fish personnel worked their rolodex feverishly to find a place for the bear.

“There’s not many good options with an orphaned black bear cub. You put it down humanely or you find it a facility, which is usually difficult. But we did manage to finally get a space for it at a rehabilitation facility in Boise, Idaho,” said Game and Fish spokesperson Mark Gocke. “They said they would be willing to take it for the winter. They’ll bring it back to Wyoming and we will release it in a remote location to try and give it the best chance of survival, and to be a wild bear.”

Gocke added that the COY (cub-of-the-year) would not have had a very good chance of survival. Finding food sources is difficult without a mother and, though hibernation is instinctual, orphaned COY sometimes have difficulty doing so in their first winter.

Off to Boise for the winter

Idaho Black Bear Rehab reported the cub was picked up in Idaho Falls Tuesday. When IBBR arrived at the predetermined pickup location, the little bear began experiencing seizures. The transport team believes it could have been a case of overmedication in sedating the cub. A vet in Idaho Falls could not make that determination.

“It happens, each animal can react differently to these meds,” IBBR said.

A facility spokesperson said the bear appears fine now and is eating—apples are his favorite. “Oh, he’s a feisty boy. You know how these Wyoming bears are.”

IBBR added that they accepted another cub-of-the-year soon to join the little Jackson cub, so he’ll have a winter playmate/sleepmate.

IBBR has a good success rate of rehabbing cubs without exposing them too much to humans, allowing for a better chance of survival in the wild when they’re ready.

For more information about IBBR or to make a donation visit http://www.bearrehab.org/

Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitation took these first photos of the COY as it arrived at the facility in Boise. (IBBR)
Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitation took these first photos of the COY as it arrived at the facility in Boise. (IBBR)
Idaho Black Bear Rehabilitation took these first photos of the COY as it arrived at the facility in Boise. (IBBR)

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