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Orphaned Bear Cubs Released

Orphaned Bear Cubs Released to the Wild: A New Chapter in Colorado’s Conservation Efforts

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO  In a heartwarming turn of events, two bear cubs, orphaned last summer, have been given a second chance at life in the wild, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Colorado Springs Utilities.

The journey of these cubs back to their natural habitat began on Thursday when CPW officers transferred them from the Frisco Creek wildlife rehabilitation facility near Del Norte, in the picturesque San Luis Valley, to their new home on Pikes Peak. There, an artificial den awaited them, meticulously prepared to offer sanctuary and a stepping stone to their rewilding.

Before their release into the den on Friday morning, the cubs were equipped with GPS ear tag transmitters. This technology, funded by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo through its Member Conservation Vote, is pivotal to a groundbreaking research project aimed at tracking the cubs’ movements and adaptation to the wild post-hibernation.

Travis Sauder, CPW’s Assistant Area Wildlife Manager for the Pikes Peak region, emphasized the importance of the partnership with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in addressing conservation challenges, particularly urban bear conflicts. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, whose members help fund conservation efforts like these GPS devices to help Colorado Parks and Wildlife deal with pressing conservation issues,” Sauder stated.

This initiative not only marks a significant step in wildlife rehabilitation but also serves as a vital research tool in understanding how orphaned bears adapt to life in the wild and their interactions with human environments. Rebecca Zwicker, an animal care manager at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, highlighted the value of GPS tracking in gaining insights into bear behavior and the effectiveness of reintroduction strategies.

All photos are courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Brittni Ehrhart-Gemmill, Kara Van Hoose, April Estep, Joey Livingston and Bill Vogrin

One of the released cubs had a particularly touching rescue story, having been saved from a precarious situation in a tree in the Broadmoor neighborhood by CPW officers with the help of a Colorado Springs Utilities bucket truck. Its sibling was found wandering alone near the Rifle State Fish Hatchery, further emphasizing the diverse challenges orphaned wildlife faces.

The success of this release is a testament to the dedication of CPW, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Colorado Springs Utilities in their ongoing commitment to wildlife conservation and management. As these cubs awaken from their winter slumber and embark on their journey in the wild, they carry with them the hopes of conservationists and the community alike, symbolizing the resilience of nature and the power of collaborative conservation efforts.

Wildlife Safety Tips

As we celebrate the successful reintroduction of the orphaned bear cubs into the wild, it’s a fitting time to reflect on the role each of us plays in wildlife conservation and the importance of coexisting safely with our wild neighbors. Here are some practical tips to help ensure safety for both humans and wildlife:

  1. Secure Your Trash: Bears are often drawn to residential areas by the smell of garbage. Use bear-proof trash containers or store your trash securely in a garage or shed until pickup day.

  2. Be Bear Aware: When hiking or camping in bear country, make noise to avoid surprise encounters, keep pets on a leash, and store food and toiletries in bear-proof containers or vehicles.

  3. Respect Wildlife Distances: Always observe wildlife from a safe distance. Never approach, feed, or attempt to interact with wild animals, as this can lead to dangerous situations and disrupt their natural behaviors.

  4. Drive Carefully: Wildlife can cross roads unexpectedly, especially at dawn and dusk. Slow down and stay alert to avoid collisions, which can be harmful to both animals and humans.

  5. Leave No Trace: Practice the Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on natural habitats. Stay on designated trails, camp in designated areas, and pack out all your trash.

  6. Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about local wildlife, their habitats, and behaviors. Share your knowledge with family and friends to promote a community-wide effort in wildlife conservation.

  7. Support Conservation Efforts: Consider supporting local and national conservation organizations through donations, volunteering, or advocating for policies that protect wildlife and their habitats.

By adopting these practices, we can all contribute to the safety and well-being of wildlife as well as our communities. Together, we can ensure that Colorado’s natural beauty and its wild inhabitants thrive for generations to come.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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