After a year-long mast crop failure, mother bears were having a very difficult time feeding themselves and their cubs. By fall, some sows were actually abandoning cubs, an uncommon occurrence among bears. We do know that nature programs females to save their own lives, in order to breed again the following year, if it is impossible to save their cubs. Two small cubs were found in the dumpster of a campground in Townsend, apparently having been abandoned by a desperate mother. The TWRA officers brought the male and female cubs to ABR.
Winston weighed 25 pounds, about half of the average weight of an 8-month-old cub. His sister Sadie weighed only 18 pounds. They were reasonably healthy but suffered from poor grooming and the effects of a poor diet.
They were introduced immediately into the “Wild Side” enclosure, and spent much of their time up in trees. Sadie, particularly, was very shy and reluctant to descend to the ground with the other cubs. When they did come down to the ground they stayed very close together. Gradually, however, the cubs gained confidence and enjoyed the bountiful supply of nutritious foods around them.
By December, Winston was released at the weight of 84 pounds while Sadie hid in the “Wild Side” underground den, refusing to emerge. She chose instead, along with three other female cubs, to spend the winter at ABR and to continue to put on weight towards a successful March release.