Larimer County Bear Cub Released Back Into The Wild

Synthia Stark

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In Larimer County, Colorado, there is an orphaned black bear cub. This cub was suffering from injuries received during Colorado’s biggest wildfire over in the Rockies. This wildfire was called the Cameron Peak Fire.

While the fire happened, this tiny cub had roamed through the Rockies, vulnerable, and most definitely lost. Wildlife officials reported spending nearly five months to nurse him back to health. On May 5, the black cub was released back into the wild.

According to a release issued by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, or CPW for short, the bear was released in the Larimer County mountains near Fort Collins. This bear required a lot of special care, including collaboration between landowners, wildlife rehabilitation officials, state wildlife health, and wildlife officers.

According to Kristin Cannon, Deputy Regional Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Northeast region, she reportedly said,

“This bear’s drive to survive did most of the work and we just gave it a little boost. This bear went through an awful lot in its first year of life, let’s hope humans can now help keep it wild by not rewarding it with our food sources and lowering its chances of survival.”

Videos of the release were also captured, where the bear was seen scampering into the little trees after some gentle coaxing from the wildlife officer. The wildlife officer had to rock and bang the metal container that the bear was transported in to encourage the little cub to leave.

The bear cub was just 16.3 pounds when it was first captured, back in December 2020. On December 7 of that same month, ranch owners reported that the cub was sleeping on a porch. Specifically, Landowners on Buckhorn Road, just northwest of Masonville, had called CPW. They were worried about the injured bear cub. The wildlife officers were quick to respond to the situation.

When wildlife officers arrived at the porch, the bear was already long gone and they were unable to find it — even while searching the surrounding area. However, on December 11, the cub was reported once again to sleeping on the same porch, where it was eventually captured by the wildlife officers later that evening.

The cub had been very much dehydrated due to the lack of food and drink. The cub was also covered in cockleburs, which matted its fur. The bear’s ears had frostbite even, acquired during the fire itself. In addition, the bear had burns on its feet.

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The Cameron Peak Fire had engulfed many parts of the county between August 15, 2020, and December 2, 2020. The bear is rather lucky to be still alive. Most of the time, wild animals don’t survive these kinds of situations and are often not found by kind and helpful people who can nurture them back to health.

According to CPW Area Wildlife Manager Jason Duetsch,

“This is an incredibly fortunate bear. Most wild animals don’t survive the myriad of injuries they are exposed to, let alone be found, captured, and treated successfully. He definitely would not have made it through much longer. It is the smallest bear cub I have ever seen at that time of the year, which helped us make the decision to try rehabilitation.”

Luckily, this little cub was able to get the help it needed at the right time.

CPW has a health lab over in Fort Collins. The bear cub was brought there and the cub was examined by veterinarians Dr. Karen Fox, Dr. Pauline Nol, and Duetsch. The professionals determined that the bear would have a high chance of survival despite the poor cub being lethargic.

Afterward, CPW’s Frisco Creek rehab facility in southwest Colorado was where the bear cub was rehabbed in. Michael Sirochman, manager of CPW’s Frisco Creek facility, had apparently stated,

“We could already see really nice healing because it had an amount of fresh tissue that granulated in. The most logical time is probably a month or more since it sustained the injuries to its feet.”

Each year, Frisco Creek rehabilitates orphaned bear cubs in the hopes that they can be returned to the wild in a safe way. The cubs often come in during the early fall months or late summer months. Sirochman made sure that the bear was kept awake all winter to let it eat and catch up to its normal body weight during springtime, and it required a special diet of digestible foods.

What’s unclear is how long this bear was orphaned or when exactly it got hurt. Despite it all, the foot injuries of the bear have since healed really nicely, especially with the help of some wonderful veterinarians and professionals.

The bear is now 1-year-old and has since bulked up to a remarkable 93 pounds, at the time of freeing. While the bear went through so much, the hospitality of human beings, particularly those in Larimer County, Colorado, really helped the bear get back on its feet.

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