I did not sleep well last night because I knew that I was getting up earlier than usual.
Wash, dress, walk and feed the dog, fill a go-cup with coffee, and be on the road to the wildlife rehabilitation center.
|A tranquilized bear is weighed. The white ear tag|
marks it as release from a rehab center.
My job as a Colorado Parks & Wildlife wildlife-transport volunteer was just that: transport. In this case, I was a bear-stretcher bearer. Once a knocked-out bear was on the stretcher, one of wardens and I carried it to a hanging scale, where it was weighed (less 15 lbs. for the stretcher and webbing). Then it was out across the snow to a waiting culvert-trap, now repurposed as a transport trailer.
Two trailers, four yearling bears in each, butt to butt, so that they would not accidentally roll onto each other's muzzles and cut off breathing.
Then, after two hours (that's 15 minutes per bear, pretty good teamwork), the two rigs left the property, headed north to somewhere in El Paso or Teller counties. (Exact location of the artificial dens is confidential, of course.)
When bears are released in summer, they are given a wake-up drug first, so that they, literally, hit the ground running.
|Game warden Corey Adler arranges the |
tranquilized bears for transportation.
To see those dens, view the photos with Jennifer Brown's article in The Colorado Sun. That"180 acres" is wacky wrong though. The wildlife rehabilitation center is much, much smaller.
Weighing between 110 and 160 pounds (50–73 kg) , the seven males and one female are roly-poly fat, thanks to massive donations of fruits and vegetables from the Cañon City Walmart, fish from CPW, and meat donated by big-game hunters. Trying to grab hold of one is like grabbing Jello.
All the while, photos are being emailed to a CPW public relations guy, and the TV station crews will be waiting near the release site.
Six more bears remain to be released in the near future.
Most of these bears were orphaned last year when their mothers were killed, either by vehicular collision or by a game warden when the mother had repeatedly broken into homes, looking for food.
The wardens know that they have to make that difficult decision sometimes, but they don't like it. As one of them said today, "This is our chance to show that we don't always kill bears."