Bear freed in Yosemite |

Bear freed in Yosemite

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – The circle of life took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when the first rehabilitated bear in California was gingerly placed in a den under sedation by federal and state authorities.

California Fish and Game officers and Yosemite National Park managers on snowshoes lugged the 115-pound orphaned cub over snowmounds, stumps and through meadows to a secret location near Glacier Point on an aluminum sled made in Austria. Sometimes park officials would scout ahead to find the best location.

“We don’t want to make that many turns,” Yosemite National Park wildlife manager Steve Thompson said.

The black bear rarely thrashed around in the wire cage covered with a blanket and placed on top of the sled. For the most part, the bear – riding out to his future home without being tranquilized – remained silent, as well as the whispering entourage of agency biologists, managers, rangers, research assistants, along with volunteers and media.

Yosemite Wildlife Biologist Kate McCurdy brought two colleagues to construct the den from the base of a fallen log. They also used nearby branches and logs to help support the den site located near a stream but far enough away from civilization to limit its contact with humans – one of their primary motives.

Park Service officials are hoping the cub will not behave like his mother, who was shot at by a camper and eventually euthanized by the Park Service for repeatedly harassing visitors.

“We hate to have to do that,” McCurdy said.

The orphaned cub was taken to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care for rehabilitation. Its release into the wild is the first of its kind in the state.

The local wildlife center, Park Service employees, and Fish and Game authorities geared up for weeks for the event, organizing their strategy to give this bear a fighting chance.

Wildlife managers claim the chance of survival ranges from slim to really good, depending on many factors.

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