Bear found in local neighborhood had been shot

Bear found in local neighborhood had been shot
LYNNWOOD, Wash. - It's been a tough winter for a mother bear and her cub who never went into hibernation. Their story includes gunshots, suffering, survival and death.

We first told you about the bears last week when they moved into an east King County neighborhood looking for food.

At the time, Wildlife Officer Bruce Richards noticed the mother bear's broken jaw.

"It looks like it's been broken just in the front part," he said. "That's the reason she's out (not hibernating). She's been hungry, hungry, hungry. And she's been hurting."

Fortunately her cub appeared to be healthy. Richards took both bears to the PAWS wildlife center in Lynnwood, where the cub is now thriving.

"She was 46 pounds. And she's 53 pounds now," wildlife veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee said as he weighed the young bear. "The cub is in exceptionally good shape considering the trauma her mother experienced."

Not only was the mother's jaw broken, Huckabee told us, so was her foreleg.

"The trajectory of the bullet was somewhere through here," he said while looking at an X-ray. "And the bullet fragmented into all these little pieces when it went through."

PAWS euthanized the mother to end her suffering.

"To take care of herself for that length of time and a keep the cub in such very good shape with a difficult winter with all the snow and all the ice we've had, her mom was certainly a hero," Huckabee said.

He sedated the cub for a quick once over. He's treated an ear infection and stitched up a bad cut, and everything is healing well.

Soon, she'll be ready to share space at PAWS with a male orphan cub who's recovering from a broken leg.

PAWS Wildlife Director Jennifer Convy says the bears will teach each other.

"They'll also compete a little bit and learn what it's like to have another bear around," Convy says. "Which is what will happen in the wild. They'll both be independent but they'll have to compete for territory, compete for food and grow up wild."

When she's back in her enclosure, the new cub stays by the door where she knows another bear is on the other side. After they teach each other about life in the wild - they'll go live it.

The plan is for wildlife officers to re-release both cubs in the Spring.

In the meantime, PAWS is caring for both. And the bills add up.

On top of medical expenses and food, Convy explains, "Bear cubs are difficult on the facilities. They're strong animals with big teeth and big claws and they do damage when they're here. So we always have to upgrade the bear facilities to make sure they're as safe as possible for the animals."

PAWS relies on charitable donations.

If you'd like to help, you'll find information on donating and volunteering at  www.paws.org