June 15, 2005
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
On November 8th, 2004, PAWS admitted a 60-pound female Black Bear cub.
The cub had been hanging out near some houses in the town of Baring for
over a week, and there was no sign of her mother. Fearing that the
young bear would have difficulty finding enough food during the winter,
a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) agent captured her
and brought her to the wildlife center. She was entered into our
database as case #04-4449. We assumed that she would be the last bear
we would receive in 2004. We assumed wrong.
On November 28th, we received a call from a WDFW agent who was
monitoring a young bear cub near Cedar Falls. The story sounded very
familiar-the cub was alone, winter was coming, and there was no sign of
his mother. The agent asked if he could capture the cub and bring him
to PAWS. We agreed to take him, and on November 29th the little
21-pound cub came in to our care and was assigned the case #04-4522.
It really was fortunate that we received the second cub. Housing young
bears together allows them to socialize with their own kind, and this
lessens the chances that they will become habituated to their human
caregivers. Again, we assumed that the bear we had just received would
be the last bear that we admitted in 2004. Again, we assumed wrong.
On December 8th, we received a call from the same WDFW agent that had
brought in bear 04-4449. He had just captured another young cub that
had broken into a chicken coop in Monroe. The bear hadn't hurt the
chickens, but she had helped herself to as much chicken food as she
could eat. It was clear that this particular bear would not have
trouble finding food over the winter, but she would get herself in big
trouble in the process. The agent brought the 42-pound cub to PAWS, and
she was admitted as case #044541. After receiving bear 044541, we were
positive that we would not take in any more bears in 2004. This wasn't
because we could see the future, but rather because our bear cages were
now full. Luckily, we received no more calls about orphaned cubs.
After short quarantine periods, the three cubs were introduced to one
another. The male bear was especially wary of his new big sisters, but
he eventually warmed to them. The bears spent the winter, eating,
playing, eating, sleeping, and eating. I realize I wrote "eating" three
times on this list, but if their release weights are any indication, I
think this was the bears' favorite activity. Bears 04-4449 and 04-4541
were released on May 18th, 2005 at two different sites in Mt.
Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. At release, they weighed 130 pounds
and 120 pounds respectively. Bear 04-4522 was released on May 26th in
the Cedar River Watershed. He weighed just under 110 pounds as he
returned home. The following pictures will give you a glimpse of all
three bear releases.
Bear 04-4541 was the last bear to arrive at PAWS in 2004,
but she was the first to be released in 2005. Here she is
making a run for it right after her carrier door was opened.
After running about 15 yards, bear 04-4541 paused to look
back at her former captors...
...she then continued running, and disappeared into nearby
Cub 04-4449 was transported to her release site in a WDFW
culvert trap. When this picture was taken, she had not fully
recovered from the tranquilizer that was given to her before
her pre-release examination.
Much more awake, but still slightly wobbly, bear 04-4449 exits
the culvert trap at her release site.
A large forested valley with a stream running through it was
laid out before the bear.
She looked to her right. Perhaps she would head for the
Cub 04-4449 doubled back and passed between the parked
WDFW truck and the small group of onlookers. At this point I
took my eye away from the camera to keep a better eye on
Behind the WDFW truck was a steep bank that rose up to
meet the forest. The cub began to climb the bank.
Bear 04-4449 entered the forest, and immediately began to
feed on some fresh vegetation that she found there.
A week later, on May 26th, bear 04-4522 was peeking out of
the transport box at his release site.
A shallow, well-vegetated draw ran from the transport carrier
up into the forest. WDFW officer Bruce Richards had cut a
small path through the vegetation to make it easier for the
bear to enter the draw. The bear inspected the path, but
apparently was not satisfied.
Bear 04-4522 moved along the road and past the parked
PAWS truck. He then began to climb a very steep dirt bank.
The bank was covered with loose rocks that occasionally
gave way under the bear's weight. Unhindered, the bear
continued to climb.
When the bear reached the top of the bank, he entered an
area of thick brush. He discovered an area with plentiful
huckleberry bushes, and began to browse on the leaves of a
Officer Richards watches as the bear regains his freedom.
His expression captures the mood of the moment nicely.
Wild animals released between June 1 and June 14, 2005:
All rights reserved. ©2005 Progressive Animal Welfare Society
1 Barn Owl
18 American Robins
1 Barred Owl
6 Golden-crowned Kinglets
2 Band-tailed Pigeons
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Spotted Towhee
5 Steller's Jays
5 Virginia Opossums
3 Eastern Gray Squirrels
2 Eastern Cottontails
7 American Crows
183 wild animals have been released since the beginning of 2005.