January 31, 2012

Building Bear Dens in Southern Colorado

Completed bears' den. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife photo.)
I have mentioned that M. and I have a sporadic volunteer gig transporting wild animals and birds to and from local rehabilitation centers.

One of those centers, not far from us, fostered seven bear cubs this summer.  Can you imagine how much they eat? And how much comes out the other end?

We had donated several large sacks of dry dog food — just a drop in the feed bucket. The bears got lucky when the manager of the Wal-Mart store in a nearby town not only sent over about a pallet-load of dog food but also cartons and cartons of fruit and vegetables.

As for the rest, let's just say that the question is not "Does a bear shit in the woods?" but "Does a wildlife rehabber dump buckets of bear turds in the woods?"

Then autumn comes. I learned that the rehabbers cannot release bears themselves, the way that they do with birds, deer, foxes, etc. It apparently is a question of liability issues. Wildlife officers pick them up and leave them at undisclosed locations.
Wildlife officers place tranquilized bear in den. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife photo.)
First, though, the state wildlife people have to build dens for the bears. This den is built of straw bales and plywood, stacked next to a rock outcropping. It was large enough to hold two of the half-grown cubs. The photo was taken in early December.

Presumably, they are sleeping there now.

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