The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Montana WILD has three new two-plus-month-old grizzly cubs under their care.
The orphaned cubs were found by a ranching family on the Rocky Mountain Front three days after their mother was shot by a hiker , and had to be euthanized by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
The ranchers contacted FWP and helped wrangle the ursa minors so they could be transported to Helena.
FWP staff gave them a medical examination and found the cubs were in good condition, although a little dehydrated.
“Compared to other cubs we had gotten in they were doing pretty well,” said FWP Interim Education Bureau Chief Laurie Wolf.
Wolf says dehydration is common for orphaned bear cubs brought to Montana WILD, and it’s important to get the right type of food into their system.
Even with the best intentions, the wrong food for a dehydrated animal can do more harm than good.
“We ask that if the public do find injured or orphaned wildlife, please do not try to feed them yourselves,” explained Wolf. “Get a hold of Fish, Wildlife and Parks immediately because like these cubs need specialized formula.”
When black bear cubs come into the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, staff take every measure to limit human interaction and make sure they stay wild for eventual release back into the wild.
“We’re not hand feeding, we’re not talking to these animals,” said Wolf. “We want to set them up for the best chance for success once we release them.”
The grizzly cubs will not be released back into the wild. FWP says there it’s not clear yet on the risks a rehabilitated grizzly might have on people, livestock or property. There also just isn’t the staff or infrastructure for a grizzly release program.
FWP is currently looking for a AZA accredited facility that will take the cubs after their time at Montana WILD. Fewer than 10% of animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited.
Over the years, Costco has generously donated their expired produce to feed bears in Montana WILD’s care, but formula for the bears and the cost of transporting them to a new facility adds up.
Montana’s Outdoor legacy Foundation is currently raising funds to help support the bears and other Grizzly Recovery Program efforts.
People can also make a donation to the Foundation for Animals who financially support all new and existing programs at the Wildlife Center.