The release of a healthy bear cub or a rehabilitated injured adult takes place after the animal has been evaluated by the rehabilitator, veterinary staff, and the government authority. In general, a rehabilitated orphaned bear cub or adult is released in the same area where it was found unless this area no longer offers a safe and nourishing habitat for bears. The objective is to keep the bear population in the area genetically sound.
Evaluation for Release
Before the bear cub can be released back into the wild, it must be evaluated according the following parameters:
The cub must be deemed physically fit and reasonably mobile to perform normal survival skills (example: be able to feed itself and defend itself),
There must not be any sign of disease or impairment that may compromise the animal,
The cub must be within the normal weight parameters for its sex, age, and the season,
The cub must have normal blood values where applicable,
The cub must show normal behavioral responses to human activity, other bear cubs, and other species, and
There must be a suitable release site available for the animal.
Bear species such as American black bears, Asiatic black bears, and brown bears that live in temperate zones around the world may be released prior to their first denning season (with a partner and provisions such as insulated doggy igloos) or are most often allowed to spend their first winter hibernating at the facility and are then released in the spring. The rehabilitator or government agency provides safe transportation to an acceptable release site, and follows a release protocol that promotes the cub's immediate success (example: releasing several cubs at a time in a forested area). A rehabilitator can choose to do a soft release providing food resources for a period of time, or a hard release offering no resources, depending on the circumstances. The rehabilitator or government agency may do post-release monitoring if possible through the use of ear tagging and/or radiotelemetry collars.
Research indicates that thousands of bear cubs of numerous species have been successfully rehabilitated and reintroduced back into the wild. The rehabilitation of a bear is considered a success if the bear is able to live in the wild without becoming entangled in human habitats. Rehabilitators and government agencies report that many bears go on to reproduce and to raise families thus contributing to the stablity of their species.