Throughout bear range there is a reoccurring issue related to orphan bear cubs. Cubs are often orphaned either when the mother is killed in an accident or a hunting situation, or when a female is forced from her den by disturbance (such as forestry, recreation or hunting activity) during winter and abandons her cubs. The issue relates to what to do with the orphaned cubs? Should they be kept alive, and if so what should be their ultimate fate? Keeping them alive and hand raising them is an issue of animal welfare rather than conservation. However, the issue of if they should be released or not has a direct bearing on conservation and is very controversial. At present, the recommendations from most experts is that they should not ever be released into the wild.
Text: John Linnell / Photo: Ozgun Emre Can