Orphaned Bear Cubs Captured, Relocated

  • A tranquilized cub is tagged before being transported to Tejon Ranch for release. [Brenda Smith photo]

    A tranquilized cub is tagged before being transported to Tejon Ranch for release. [Brenda Smith photo]

By Gary Meyer

Two of three bear cubs, believed to have been orphaned last week when their mother was killed in Frazier Park, were captured Tuesday, Aug. 25 by California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) 

On Monday evening, August 17, a small adult female bear was killed with a shotgun when it became cornered between three people trying to rescue a dog. The bear reportedly charged at the people before it was shot.

During the following week, numerous reports came into the newspaper office about three bear cubs which appeared to be orphaned and were scouring neighborhoods for food.

Biologists from DFG tried unsuccessfully to track the cubs on Thursday, Aug. 20, were furloughed off work Friday then finally received calls on Tuesday about the cubs’ presence in a residential yard on Roosevelt Trail.

DFG officials snared and tranquilized what they described as a 25 pound female cub, then “jab-sticked” a 25 pound male cub with tranquilizer. According to resident Brenda Smith, the male cub fell from the tree and hit a branch before being netted.

Asked about DFG’s policy on releasing young bears, Wildlife Management Supervisor Kevin O’Connor said, “If the bear exceeds 50 pounds or the date is later than August 1, it is to be released into the wild.” He said that although these cubs were less than 50 pounds, the date was after August 1 and he was following policy.

The two sedated cubs were placed in DFG’s cylindrical trap and transported into the wild where they were released, long after the sedative had worn off.

The third cub had not been captured as of press time Wednesday afternoon.

Although some residents told The Mountain Enterprise that DFG had “lied” by saying the cubs would be taken to a rehabilitation facility, O’Connor says he made the determination that the cubs were in “good bodily condition” and could be released according to department regulations. The decision tree he says he followed can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/
hunting/bear/statewidepolicy.html. This chart shows that cubs found after August 1 and meeting other criteria can be released.

The policy indicates that any cubs which have imprinted on humans (from being handled or fed) cannot be rehabilitated and should be taken to a zoo or be euthanized.

Tejon Ranch Company’s spokesperson Barry Zoeller confirmed to The Mountain Enterprise that the two bear cubs were released on Tejon Ranch property Tuesday evening.

This is part of the August 21, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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