Orphaned bear cubs returned to the wild, placed in artificial dens

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FAIRPLAY, Colo. — Two bear cubs were returned to the wild this week. Colorado Parks and Wildlife placed them in artificial dens.

One of the cubs was one of three bears (alongside its sibling and mother) caught on video breaking into a Pine home last summer. One of the home’s residents, Jon Johnson, was injured while fighting off the bears.

The cub’s mother was euthanized.

“You’d be surprised but I was in tears for weeks just thinking about it. I didn’t want the cubs to be out there you know without a mother,” said Johnson’s wife, George Ann Field.

CPW hopes that by placing the bears in artificial den made of hay and brush, they will learn to hibernate and survive in the wild.

“When you place them back out in the wild, it’s very important to give young bears a chance,” said Jason Clay, a CPW spokesperson.

Every year in Colorado, an average of 15 cubs are abandoned. Many of them are rehabilitated and placed in artificial dens.

“And then from there you hope for the best. It’s not foolproof. They could come out that very next day,” Clay said.

Crews built special portable dens to transport the cubs to their new habitat.  

They even supply the cubs with oxygen. 

Officers entered the den to settle the cubs safely. 

Wildlife officers may have to wait until springtime to find out whether the operation was successful.

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