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Orphaned bears released back into the wild

After five months at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center for care and rehabilitation, two black bear cubs are back in the wild.

A 15-month-old female cub and a 15-month male cub were released two hours apart in Central California’s Inyo and Tulare counties on May 24 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The two cubs were kept in an outdoor enclosure together at the Ramona Wildlife Center, allowing them to exhibit more natural behaviors. With access to trees, shrubs and natural substrate, they had opportunities to run, climb, play and forage for food. Project Wildlife’s animal care team intentionally minimized interaction with the bears, so the cubs would not get comfortable around humans.

“Their stay with us has to mimic life in the wild, to set them up for success,” said Andy Blue, campus director of San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center in a press release. “It’s incredibly important that no one gets any unnecessary access to the bears, because then they might think it is safe to approach humans after they’ve been released.”

The cub who was released in Inyo County arrived at the Ramona Wildlife Center on Dec. 15, 2022, from Bishop. He had been orphaned and reported to be showing habituation to people, which is dangerous for both the bear and the public. It was believed the mother had been struck by a car.

The cub who was released in Tulare County arrived Dec. 18, 2022, after she was believed to have been orphaned by the heavy rainstorms, which can flood bear dens. She was rescued by CDFW biologists near Bakersfield after she was found abandoned and thin.

San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife program is the primary resource for wild animal rehabilitation and conservation education in San Diego County.

Each year, SDHS gives nearly 13,000 injured, orphaned and sick wild animals a second chance. At the Ramona Campus, which they have been operating since 2020, SDHS specializes in caring for native apex predators and birds of prey, including hawks, owls, eagles, coyotes, bears, bobcats and, under special pilot authorization, mountain lions.

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