Brown bear cub orphaned near Nome now in Anchorage
A recently born brown bear cub, found near a sow killed in a wanton-waste incident near Nome last month, has been taken to Anchorage as biologists nurse the malnourished animal back to health.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers said in an online dispatch that they received word April 29 about the bear kill, which reportedly occurred the previous day in Venetia Creek, northeast of Nome in Game Management Unit 22C. State law requires that hunters bring killed bears’ hides and skulls to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“[Troopers] located the kill site and confirmed the carcass was that of a lactating sow,” troopers wrote. “The hide and skull remained on scene; however some of the bear's claws were removed.”
The cub, which was found near the sow’s carcass, was transferred to Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials. They sent the animal to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage for temporary holding.
Pat Lampi, the zoo’s executive director, said Wednesday that the male cub is one of the smallest he’s ever seen. The cub, which appears to be about five months old, arrived weighing roughly 10 pounds – at a point in its life when it should weigh about 20.
Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said the cub will be sent later this summer to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, a facility near Tacoma, Wash. which had been on the department’s placement list for a brown bear cub for some time. If a placement slot isn’t available, Fish and Game policy calls for cubs discovered in incidents like the one near Nome to be euthanized.
“We’re very fortunate that they had room for this cub,” Marsh said. “The zoo, of course, is holding the cub until permitting work is complete.”
Marsh said he was aware of only one or two placement opportunities nationwide for a brown bear cub at accredited wildlife facilities, due to rare turnover opportunities for the bruins.
“They’re a long-lived animal so when, say, a facility has room for a brown bear – if they care for that bear, and the facility has room – that bear will be around for 20 years or 30 years,” Marsh said.
The cub isn’t yet on public display at the zoo, Lampi said, but people will be able to see the animal before it goes to Washington.
Anyone with information on the sow kill near Nome is asked to call wildlife troopers there at 907-443-2429, or the statewide Wildlife Safeguard toll-free line at 800-478-3377.
Heather Hintze and Scott Jensen contributed information to this story.