Celebrating the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center
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by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
Watch as bear 04-0065 regains her freedom.
At 8am on April 16th, bear 04-0065 was closed
into a single section of her multi-cage enclosure.
This restriction of her movement was meant to
make it easier for Dr. John Huckabee to hit her
with a tranquilizer dart. In this photo, Dr. Huckabee
waits patiently for that perfect shot at her backside.
As can be clearly seen in this photo, Dr.
Huckabee did eventually get that perfect shot.
Once the tranquilizer took effect, the bear was
carried inside and placed on a scale. She weighed
in at just over 109 lbs. She had put on more than
65 pounds in the three months since her arrival at
After being weighed, the bear was taken into the
surgery room. A mask was placed over her snout
to deliver anesthesia and ointment was placed in
her eyes to ensure that they did not become dry
and irritated while she was asleep.
Dr. Huckabee carefully removes the dart from
bear 04-0065's rump while Rehabilitation Manager
Jennifer Convy monitors her heart rate and
Dr. Huckabee holds the bear's mouth open so a
tracheal tube can be inserted. It was a good
opportunity to get a close look at her impressive
Once inserted, the tracheal tube is secured in
place. When animals are under anesthesia, they
lose their swallowing reflex. Putting a tracheal tube
in place ensures that an open airway is maintained,
and greatly reduces the chances that
complications will occur.
The bear was placed on the x-ray table, and two
radiographs of her skull were taken. 04-0065 was
radiographed with the intent of helping other bears
that enter rehabilitation. In the future, the
radiographs of her normal, undamaged skull can
be used as reference films that will assist in
spotting abnormalities in radiographs of injured
The ODFW provided bear 04-0065 with a radio
collar. The collar is fitted with a "breakaway"
device that will cause the collar to fall off in
approximately 3-6 months. She will be monitored
by the ODFW until such time as the collar falls off.
After the bear was radio collared, a blood sample
was drawn. She was then placed on a stretcher.
ODFW agent Rick Boatman takes care not to tilt
the stretcher as he and Dr. Huckabee carry the
bear down a flight of stairs. They took the bear to
a truck behind the wildlife center, in the back of
which sat a large, aluminum transport carrier.
Dr. Huckabee positions the bear in the straw-
lined transport carrier. After she was placed in the
carrier, the bear was monitored for a period of
time to ensure that she was waking up without
Once the bear began to wake up, the door of her
transport carrier was shut, and she began her long
journey back to Oregon. The people in the silver
SUV on the left had no idea that at this instant
they were 8 feet away from a black bear.
About four hours later, the bear's transport carrier
was placed in a clearing in the middle of an
Oregon State Forest. After nearly starving to
death, enduring 3 months of captivity, and
experiencing a rather terrifying morning, her ordeal
was about to come to an end.
The release transport carrier was rigged with an
A-frame structure to which a rope and pulley
system was attached. The rope and pulley system
made it possible to open the carrier door from a
distance. This setup makes a bear release safer
for those performing it, and it also makes it less
stressful for the bear.
The door is opened, and bear 04-0065 eagerly
The bear looks to her left and notices that there
are no walls in sight.
The bear then looks to her right and notices the
small group of humans standing nearby.
Bear 04-0065 has seen more than enough
humans, and she begins to trot towards the
After pausing to take a quick glance back over
her shoulder, the bear headed off down a steep
The bear circled to the left and began traversing
a large cleared area. She dropped down through a
small stream channel and then began to head
towards a stand of mixed forest. She paused a
few times to reassess her surroundings.
As the bear reached the far side of the clearing,
she began to climb upslope and into the trees.
Her brown fur blended perfectly with the soil and
the shadows, and except for the occasional flash
of her white radio collar, she was very difficult to
detect. After having seen her through the chain-
link door of a cage earlier that morning, it was an
amazing contrast to see her in this new setting.
To my eyes, she had become a completely
different animal; a confident, independent being
that I had been waiting three months to see. As
she disappeared into the trees, our chapter in her
story ended, and we were left with the happy task
of loading an empty carrier into the back of a truck.
Volunteer at the PAWS Wildlife Center
Are you inspired by the stories that you read in Wild Again? Have you ever wished you could be a part of the team that makes these stories possible? You can! PAWS Wildlife Center has both ongoing and seasonal volunteer opportunities. Details are available at: www.paws.org/help/vol If you have any questions, you may also call the PAWS Wildlife Volunteer Manager Lauren Glickman at 425-787-2500 ext. 818. We hope to hear from you soon!
Wildlife Release tally: March 31st to April 20th, 2004
Wildlife Release tally: 2004
All rights reserved. ©2004 Progressive Animal Welfare Society