The Department of Fish and Game says the bear cubs that were allegedly for sale at a rural gas station have a good chance of being reintroduced into the wild without their mother.
The 11 pound, 4-month-old cubs will be kept without much human contact until next spring when they will weigh about 60 pounds.
“Approaching people is not something we want in our wild bear population,” said Marc Kenyon, a Department of Fish and Game biologist and in charge of the department’s bear program.
Cubs usually stay with their mothers for a year and a half, but Kenyon says cubs are very adaptable in terms of finding food on their own. Since 2007, 27 cubs have survived a year after being released while three have died.
The mother was supposedly shot while making an aggressive move toward a man who shot at her and eventually captured the treed cubs. Fish and Game is still investigating the incident and whether he was indeed trying to sell the cubs at a gas station in Nevada County.
The Folsom Zoo and Sanctuary houses five bears, most of them cubs whose mothers were put down because they were a danger to people. A two year old named Henry is typical. His mother was destroyed because she was accustomed to taking campground food.
“The mom’s teach kids right away where easy food is and it’s usually with us,” said the Folsom Zoo’s Jill Lute.
The bears are featured attractions and are used to teach visitors that they are wild animals and not pets. They will live out their lives at the Zoo and Sanctuary because they are not afraid of people and are poor candidates for rehabilitation into the wild once they learn how to get human food.
But the two cubs that were confiscated may be too young to have learned how to forage among humans.