|District wildlife manager Justin Krall and some of the crew, |
with two bears loaded in the culvert trap for transport.
They had spent months at the wildlife rehabilitation center, eating, sleeping, climbing tree trunks, eating, wrestling sumo-style, eating, splashing in stock tanks — but now it was time to go!
Their human contact had been kept low — the rehab center is not a zoo — but now came more humans, two of them with CO2-powered dart guns. PPFFFTT!
We lifted each tranquilized bear onto a stretcher, where it was weighed, micro-chipped (as with pets), ear-tagged (all this is wildlife-research data), and vaccinated against sarcoptic mange. Here is the one I called "Stumpy," the smallest at about 125 pounds, waiting to be loaded with his companion.
Then they were loaded into trailers (which are actually "live" bear traps themselves) for a long ride up into the Arkansas River headwaters, into areas where the drought is not so severe. At last came release, two in one place, two in another.
|Looking over the upper Arkansas River Valley|
"No long goodbyes," says district wildlife manager Kim Woodruff, who made this last video. That these bears gallop away from humans is a good thing, for them. Now they have their chance.