Black bear cubs orphaned after mom euthanized in Estes Park begin rehabilitation process

DENVER – They may not understand why they suddenly became orphaned, but three black bear cubs are beginning a process that will help them learn to avoid the same fate as their mother. 

The cubs were rescued and taken to a rehabilitation facility after wildlife officers euthanized the bears’ mother Thursday evening in Estes Park. 

The animal, known by locals as “Scarface” because of a previous incident where the bear had climbed a power pole and got zapped, was deemed a safety concern after several residential break-ins in the area; she had also caused damage at a local business in her search of food.

“She had become habituated to people and had associated humans with food,” said Kristin Cannon, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “She posed a safety risk to the public, and we felt compelled to act to protect the community. We also hope that by removing the cubs from this situation, they will not repeat the behavior of their mother and will have a higher chance of survival over the long term.”

The cubs were taken from inside the Estes Park city limits are getting a new lease on life at Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Frisco Creek wildlife facility near Del Norte in the San Luis Valley.

According to a news release, the cubs will be isolated from people to get them to be self-sufficient without having to go into town to look for food. The Frisco Creek Center will also prepare the cubs for winter hibernation. Sirochman said the cubs would probably put on 30-40 pounds by the end of September.

“A lot of this isn’t really taught, they just know to follow their nose to food and we try to provide the widest variety of natural forage that we can so that they have experience with those things,” Sirochman said. “When they smell them one day, they remember: ‘Ah ha, gooseberries are good, and I’m going to go eat them.’ ”

When released, these cubs will have white ear-tags on them to signal they are rehabilitated cubs. This does not count as a first strike against them, so if they get into trouble in the future, they won’t be euthanized on that first offense unless they pose an imminent threat to human health and safety, such as by breaking into a home.
 

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