Washington’s orphaned cubs get freedom, ‘a second chance at life’
SOUTHERN NATIONAL OLYMPIC FOREST – Reacting to the auditory assault of slamming metal, barking dogs, screams and gunshots, a 168-pound American black bear fired from the open end of a culvert and propelled him into the woods on a forest road. in Grays Harbor County.
Her sister, weighing 135 pounds, took a little longer to overcome her fear and confusion before she, too, ran to the trees and pulled away from the humans who have each traveled over 100 miles to assist. on the return of bears to the wild.
“I’m just glad they got out of the trap and are safe,” said Dustin Prater, a police officer with the Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (WDFW) who, along with his Karelian bear dog, said Spencer, has seen more than 20 bear releases. over the past nine years. “I hope they stay away from humans and have a long life.”
The cubs, now yearlings, were the 106th and 107th orphaned or injured bears to be raised or treated at the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, then released months later in the same general area where they were originally found. Equipped with GPS collars and tattooed with ID numbers on their gums, bears are also among the latest subjects in a long-term research study by Rich Beausoleil and Lindsay Welfelt, both WDFW biologists and specialists in the agency’s bear and cougar.
The siblings, now 15 months old, were only two weeks old when a forestry worker and his dog inadvertently disturbed their den in February 2020, scaring their mother. She never came back. The worker contacted WDFW, which has partnered with PAWS for years to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife before releasing them to their natural habitats. PAWS staff take care of 150-175 species annually and current residents include owls, hawks, ducks, a great blue heron, raccoons, chipmunks, a mountain beaver and three bobcats that are expected to be released in Whatcom County this week.