Clay Scott recently reported on the radio show Living on Earth that the 2015 drought in Montana forced black bear families into areas with cars and other dangers — orphaning many cubs.
“The hot dry summer meant not a lot of berries, and that in turn meant that many bears had to forage far from their normal territory. Quite a few of those wandering bears ended up being shot, or hit by cars.
“And that means there were a lot of orphaned black bear cubs this year. Like the one a friend and I saw when we were driving down a dirt road on the prairie, miles from suitable black bear habitat. At first, as it scurried through the grass, it looked like a black lab puppy. Then it scampered up a power pole.”
Scott called Brady Murphy, a game warden. Murphy, in turn, called two other wardens whom he knew to have tranquilizer darts.
As Scott explains, “Game wardens in Montana cover vast territories. Teigan Winters is driving 50 miles to get to where we are. Kqyn Kuka is on her way from north of Great Falls – that’s an hour and a half drive. I ask Murphy why, in the middle of hunting season, three wardens would converge on a power pole in the middle of the prairie to tranquilize a black bear cub.”
Murphy replies, “You don’t do this job to get rich. You do it because you love the resources and you want to protect them. And you have that strong passion.”
The wardens create a firecracker-type explosion to get the bear to come down the pole, and when he does, they use the dart.
“They lay the cub carefully in the back of the pick-up. It turned out to be a male, less than 25 pounds. He’ll spend the winter at Montana Wild, the wildlife rehab center in Helena, and will be released next spring.”
More at Living on Earth, here.
Photo: Sarah Hewitt
A black bear cub perched atop a power pole.