The 50th bear cub

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On 23 April, we took into our custody an approximately 3 months-old female brown bear cub from the village of Idicel, Mureș County. Its mother was chased away by dogs, and the cub climbed up into a tree. After spending the night and the next morning on the top of the tree, the cub was safely retrieved by some villagers and handed over to the local hunting association. Besides being exhausted, stressed out and hungry, the cub was perfectly healthy. To make sure that she was indeed alright, she was kept under observation for a few days by the experts of Vets4Wild. On 26 April, the cub was handed over to Bear Again Rehabilitation Center for Orphan Bears to start a rehabilitation process with other orphan bears of her age. At the end of this period, most likely next August or September, she will be released back into the wild.

Fortunately, she did not require any medical treatment or intervention – we must say she has special meaning to us. It was the 50th bear cub that got into the joint care of Milvus Group and Vets4Wild since 2011, when we had our first intervention. During the last 12 years, we rescued cubs from captivity (kept as pets) or victims of road traffic. Some were on the side of busy roads, others became orphans because their mothers were hit by cars or trains. Some were removed from their den by people as their mothers fled either because of intentional or unwanted human disturbance (e.g. wintertime logging or driven hunts for wild boars), others were recovered from treetops of various villages after their mothers had fled or had been chased away. Their age ranged from 3 weeks to 9 months old, and their weight from 2 to 40 kilograms. Some were perfectly healthy, while others needed extensive veterinarian care for health issues ranging from broken limbs to dehydration, malnutrition, bacterial infections, neurological issues, including paresis, and organ failure. During the rescue operations, we have been working together with the staff of hunting associations, forestry services, county-level Environmental Guards and Environmental Protection Agencies, firefighters, mountain rescue teams, policemen and ordinary citizens from across several counties in Romania. Throughout the rescue operations, the assistance of Vets4Wild has been vital. Once the cubs got into our custody, we cared for them jointly with the staff of Vets4Wild, who even created a special formula for feeding the youngest.

It was important that all cubs spend as little time as possible in our custody. Out of the 50 cubs we had, we managed to hand over 48 cubs to the Bear Again Rehabilitation Center for Orphaned Bears. Two suffered from incurable diseases – one had to be euthanised, and the other died shortly after we got it. Once the cubs reach Bear Again, they are put together with other orphan cubs of the same age in several large, remote, forested enclosures, surrounded by traditional and electric fencing. Once they can eat solid food, they have no more contact with human beings to avoid habituation (the facilities and the area are closed to the public). From that moment, they are fed remotely with a drone to prevent them from associating food with people. They grow up exploring their natural habitat and playing with the other cubs. They spend their first winter at Bear Again in dens they excavate for themselves. They are released back into the wild in the following year, in late summer or early autumn, when there is a bountiful supply of food in nature. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that we worked with during these last 11 years in order to give these cubs a second chance at life.

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