Three male black bear cubs were orphaned last year. Two were the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale by the Navajo Nation. These two were orphaned after their mother was killed in a vehicle collision. The third bear was found orphaned in southeastern Arizona in October last year. The AZGFD responded and captured the cub and also took the cub to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
Over the next 8 months, the bears have grown and have been being taught how to survive in the wild. Once these juvenile black bears showed proficiency in foraging and natural behavior methods during the rehabilitation process, they were considered ready for release back into the wild. At that point, the bears were all given ear tags. Likewise, the bears were given a health check and were tranquilized for their drive to the wild. The release took place on June 13th. The bears were released at a site that has a quality bear habitat and a smallish human presence.
“Our agency has a history of successful partnership efforts with Southwest Wildlife. The center has the knowledge and experience working with young bears, along with the facility to handle them in a secluded area with limited human interaction.” – Dustin Darveau, Terrestrial Wildlife Specialist for AZGFD.
Two of the three orphaned bears were equipped with a prototype GPS ear tag. These tags have solar capabilities to continually charge very small batteries. The AZGFD hopes that these ear tags will let them know how the bears are doing and what type of habitats they are using.