Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) personnel rescued an orphaned male black bear cub in St. Mary Parish on Nov. 14 and transported the cub on Nov. 21 to the Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR) Center in Tennessee for rehabilitation prior to return to the wild.
Arlen Carter, of Franklin, observed the cub in his hunting area while in a deer stand overlooking a food plot at 8:15 a.m.
"I watched the cub and waited for his mother to arrive," Carter said. "After 30 minutes, I came to the conclusion that the cub was alone and called LDWF authorities."
Carter said that he has hunted this same area for the last four years and has seen quite a few bears, some coming within yards of his deer stand.
"Situations like this are extremely rare and hunters should not assume bear cubs seen without a female nearby are orphans," said LDWF Wildlife Biologist Maria Davidson. "This cub was very small, undernourished and near starvation, which prompted the decision to capture him. Had he been in good health, he would have been left in the area."
Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Technician Tim Marcentel from LDWF's New Iberia office, along with student worker Brent Castille and WMA Technician Guy Patout, retrieved the cub. According to Davidson, the cub had been trying to subsist on sugar cane stubble left in a harvested field. The cub weighed 15 pounds when caught, well outside the 30-to-50-pound range a 10-to-11-month- old bear should reach. All cubs are born in January or February each year.
Following the capture, the young bear was then transported to Baton Rouge, given emergency care and nourishment and then transferred to the ABR Center.
According to ABR's Web site at www.appalacianbearrescue.org, the cub will be placed on commercial formula along with natural wild foods gathered by local volunteers. It will be housed with other cubs for comfort and companionship with minimum human contact. Prior to release into the wild, the cub will live in a one-acre bear enclosure with hardwood trees, natural dens and man-made streams and water sources. In the enclosure, the cub will not see humans or receive human contact unless medical attention is required. Cubs will forage for randomly placed food within the enclosure.
Each cub must grow to at least 60 pounds in weight and exhibit normal foraging behavior, while interacting and vocalizing with other cubs and demonstrating climbing skills, before being released into the wild. Normal wild bear behavior can also be verified if a cub spends its days above ground in a tree and on the ground at night looking for food.
ABR has released 78 bears back into the wild without any being reported as a nuisance by the public. Their goal is to make sure bears are wary of humans.
Davidson hopes this cub will be ready to return to Louisiana by the spring of 2007 for release in north Louisiana where bear densities are lower.
For more information, contact Maria Davidson at 225-765-2385 or firstname.lastname@example.org.