Rescued bear cub gets released into hibernation den |

Rescued bear cub gets released into hibernation den

TRUCKEE ” An orphaned black bear cub has been placed into a hibernation den near Truckee for a long winter’s rest.

State Fish and Game Department officials moved up the release of the 80-pound cub to Wednesday to beat winter storms predicted the rest of the week.

The cub, which is about 9 months old, was rescued in September after her mother was hit by a car near Truckee, north of Lake Tahoe. The cub has been cared for since then in a pen at the department’s Rancho Cordova facility near Sacramento.

Game wardens think the cub weighs enough to survive the winter on her own.

The cub weighs about twice as much as her counterparts that have spent the last several months in the wild, but it also has one drawback, said Doug Updike, an environmental scientist for the department.

“It has not received all of the schooling it would have gotten from its mom about how to be a bear,” Updike said.

Department officials tried to improve the bear’s chances by keeping it in “as much of a wild state as possible,” away from humans at the Rancho Cordova facility, Updike added.

On Wednesday, department officials placed the cub in an igloo-shaped dog kennel that had been buried in the snow north of Truckee, in the same area where the cub came from.

The kennel has a vent pipe to allow the cub to get air. It also has an opening that will allow the cub to go out and look around, but storms this week could cover up the opening.

“Typically they come out and look around and go back into the den once their curiosity is met,” Updike said. “We expect that it would spend the winter in the den.”

The cub is the first of five orphaned cubs set for release this winter.

The department says that is an unusually large number of rescued cubs. They blame the increase on a dry year that forced more bears into closer contact with humans.

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