Bear cub headed to rehabbers in Idaho

A small black bear cub captured Jan. 6 after she fell out of a tree near Phoenix will get a second chance at life on the wild side.

The 13-pound bruin will be trucked Wednesday to a nonprofit bear rehabilitation facility near McCall, Idaho, where she will live out the winter in preparation for release next spring in a remote area of Jackson County, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The bear's time at the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary will be free from human contact so she doesn't get habituated to people — an important circumstance for this animal because two strikes aren't allowed for problem bears in Oregon.

"The bear is going into a very natural, big enclosure," said Colin Gillin, ODFW's state veterinarian. "There are lots of places for her to den up and food sources to keep her away from people and to keep her wild.

"She should do well," Gillin said. "It's a good result for her."

The long road to Idaho will end the bear's two weeks under Gillin's care, during which time he's been seeking an appropriate rehab facility or an accredited zoo or sanctuary as an alternative to euthanasia after test results showed the bear was healthy and observations showed she was not habituated to people.

The little bear had been spotted alone in several trees outside Phoenix before she was captured after falling out of a tree and landing upside down in blackberry bushes early this month.

She was taken to an ODFW facility outside of Corvallis that is equipped with bear cages while Gillin sought a rehabber or zoo for the bear.

Rehab-worthy bears normally are sent to a Lynnwood, Wash., facility, but it was full, Gillin said. Snowdon then became the bear's next best option, he said.

There are no rehabilitation facilities in Oregon licensed to rehab bears, Gillin said.

Because this bear appeared not to be a bruin ruined by human contact, Gillin said he was hoping she could go the rehab route instead of living out life in a zoo.

"It's always a big decision with these guys," Gillin said. "Each animal and each circumstance is different."

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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