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CPW News Release
CPW News Release
Bear cubs orphaned last summer are released back into the wild by CPW officers

Feb. 6. 2024
Bill Vogrin
Southeast Region Public Information Officer
Bear cubs orphaned last summer released into artificial dens
An orphaned bear cub is ready for placement in a sled ride to an artificial den where it will spend the rest of the winter in this photo on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers sedated the cub, fitted it with hobbles, a blindfold, muzzle, oxygen and a GPS ear tag to track its movements once it emerges from the den in the spring.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

Feb. 6, 2024

Bear cubs orphaned last summer released into the wild

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Two bear cubs orphaned last year were released back into the wild Friday by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers working in partnership with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Colorado Springs Utilities.

CPW officers retrieved the cubs Thursday from CPW’s Frisco Creek wildlife rehabilitation facility near Del Norte in the San Luis Valley. On Friday morning, wildlife officers drove the bears to an artificial den built for them on Pikes Peak. 

Before placing the cubs in the den, CPW wildlife officers fitted the cubs with GPS ear tag transmitters supplied by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. The zoo’s Member Conservation Vote approved funding for the tags, which are critical to this important ongoing research project, which is designed to reveal what happens to the bears when they leave the den.

The GPS ear tags will allow CPW to track their movements, on a delayed basis, once they emerge from hibernation in the spring and follow their progress as rehabbed adult bears. The GPS ear tags transmit data every 10-14 days, or so.

“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,” said Travis Sauder, CPW’s Assistant Area Wildlife Manager for the Pikes Peak region. 

“Of course, urban bear conflict is one of our single biggest issues, especially bears getting into garbage at area homes and businesses. It will be extremely valuable to study the effectiveness of our rehabilitation efforts with orphaned bear cubs and see if they really do learn to avoid humans in the future. We’re grateful to the zoo for its partnership with us.”

The partnership was launched in 2022.

“The GPS tags provided valuable data and supported ongoing efforts to reduce human-bear wildlife conflicts in the Pikes Peak Region,” said Rebecca Zwicker, an animal care manager at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. 

“Through GPS tracking, we gain greater understanding of bears and learn how to keep them safe and help them be successful in their wild reintroduction. We don’t know much about what they do when they leave the den, and the first step to any challenge is to understand more about it.”

One of the bears placed in the den Friday was orphaned by its sow last summer in the Broadmoor neighborhood in southwest Colorado Springs. The sow had four cubs, which is extremely unusual. CPW biologists speculate she may not have been able to care for all four so the runt of the litter was abandoned. 

When the cub climbed high in a tree to escape CPW officers, a Colorado Springs Utilities crew came to the rescue with a bucket truck that lifted an officer 30 feet in the air to sedate and rescue the cub. 

The other orphaned cub wandered into the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery without its sow.


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

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