Posted by: Wild Instincts | January 18, 2012

FACQ (Frequently Asked Cub Questions)

FACQ     Frequently Asked Cub Questions

What happened to their mom?

Mom was disturbed by logging operations. Wildlife doesn’t advertise where they are raising their babies by putting out a welcome mat so the loggers had no idea the den was there. No one even saw the sow run off in this case. A forester just happened to see the cubs lying in the open near an uprooted tree.

Would their mom come back for them?

About 75% of the time, the sow comes back for the cubs.  Quite often, however, first time moms take off and don’t look back. No one saw the sow in the case, so no one could judge if she was bigger/older or maybe a first time mom. There was no snow to enable tracking mom, either.

Shouldn’t bears be hibernating in their dens?

Black bears are not true hibernators, but really winter sleepers. They give birth in the den in January here in WI. They will get up on warmer days and venture out for short periods. They will move to alternate dens if melting snow, snowmobiles, logging, etc disturbs them.

Dens also vary a lot. Some are nice and cozy, while others can just be a depression near an uprooted tree with little protection from the elements.

What do you feed them?

In the first 24 hours after the boys arrival, they were fed a special electrolyte formula to help the transition to a new food (not their mother’s milk). Transitions need to be made slowly and carefully to help prevent diarrhea which can be life-threatening in small animals. They are now on a special formula for bears.

How often do they get fed?

They started out getting fed every three hours around the clock. They have adjusted and grown so now they’re eating about every four hours except overnight. They are giving us a break and sleeping in a 5-hour block, allowing us five hours of sleep :0)

What will happen to them?

As we usually do for cubs this time of year, we will try to find a wild den to place them in. Bears can’t seem to count and readily accept the new addition without problems.

For now, there are a few black bear research projects in WI with radio-telemetry collars. The researchers generally go into the dens to check equipment and fit from Feb-April depending on the weather and likely cub size. To protect everyone while this is done, the bear is tranquilized. The researchers wait until the cubs are of an age/size where they can safely move out of mom’s way to prevent cubs from being accidentally rolled on and squished while she is still groggy from sedation.

The researchers have an idea which bears have cubs, but not how many cubs until they have sedated the bear and gone into the den. Some years we’ve tried to put cubs in dens but have had to bring them back with us because the sow already had three or four.  Adding just one more would be too much for the entire family.

If an appropriate wild surrogate mom cannot be found, the cubs will be raised here at Wild Instincts until fall when they will be released back into the wild.


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