RHINELANDER, Wis. (AP) — A wildlife rehabilitation facility is raising three newborn bear cubs after their mother died during a research project.
Wisconsin Public Radio reports that researchers tranquilized the mother bear and an older cub in their den in February so they could replace batteries on a radio collar.
The mother bear apparently died after the cub rolled onto her head. Experts called the mother bear’s death “a freak accident.”
The researchers contacted Wild Instincts, a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Rhinelander, to take the three newborns. The cubs were admitted into the rehabilitation facility on Feb. 20.
The facility’s wildlife rehabilitation director, Mark Naniot, says the eight-week-old cubs are doing well and are currently being bottle-fed until they learn to eat out of a dish.
As they grow, the cubs will reportedly transition into larger enclosures until they are old enough to be put outside in Wild Instinct’s bear enclosure.
“The enclosure has a lot of space, a den area for shelter, and a pond. The feeding area is just inside the door and so we have very minimal contact,” shared Naniot.
And this isn’t the first time Wild Instincts has raised/cared for Wisconsin bears, the facility reports that in the last 25 years, they have cared for over 300 bears.
“We have a lot of experience raising bear cubs and have been doing so for 25 years…We are pretty much the only facility in the state that rehabs bears,” explained Naniot.
The three orphaned cubs will be staying at the facility until the second week of October, just after bear hunting season concludes.
Wildlife Instincts has been providing updates on the status of the cubs. To follow along on their journey to rehabilitation, here.