Warning issued on bears as cubs venture out

09/27/2012 12:00 AM

09/27/2012 7:52 AM

Fall in the mountains is when bear cubs head out into the wild to start life on their own.

The California Department of Fish and Game reminds people who see bear cubs to leave them alone. Even if young bears seem orphaned, the best thing is to let them be.

Throughout the year, sows teach their young to eat what's available in nature. By fall, cubs can survive even if separated from their mothers.

"Depending on the sow's parenting ability, these cubs have already learned to fend for themselves," said Marc Kenyon, bear program coordinator at Fish and Game. "Plus, bears of this age are extremely resourceful, making their chances of surviving on their own relatively good."

Cubs are born in spring. About 40 percent die in their first year. Those that survive spend their first winter with their mother. The next August, when they are about 18 months old, she drives them off to fend for themselves.

Some cubs are orphaned for various reasons before their first winter, at just 5 or 6 months old. Yet many know enough to survive on their own. Fish and Game policy is to leave orphan bears alone unless they are obviously sick or injured.

With about 30,000 black bears in California, encounters with people are becoming more common. To avoid conflicts, Kenyon said it is important that residents and visitors in bear habitat store food and trash properly. Feeding wildlife is harmful and illegal.

For more information, go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/bear

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