Four orphaned bear cubs now back in the wild

Four orphaned bear cubs now back in the wild
LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Four orphaned bear cubs are back living in the wild. They each lost their mothers last fall, before they had the skills to live alone.

One female cub was found by wildlife officers sitting no her dead mother in the woods.

The experts at the PAWS Wildlife Center housed the cub with three other orphans - a brother and sister whose mother was hit by a car, and a male who was captured in a neighborhood.

PAWS raised them through winter at a cost of $18,000 for housing and feeding, plus another $6,000 in medical care.

"We take a very hands off approach to raising the bears because we want their fear of humans to remain intact," said Kevin Mack with PAWS. "That's going to be their best defense when they're released."

That day was Wednesday. Two of the cubs are already back in the mountains. The other two were about to leave PAWS.

When we first met one male cub last fall, he weighed 70 pounds and had a broken jaw. Today, he weighs 258 pounds and is very strong.

The female is healthy too.

"She's in good shape," said Dr. John Huckabee, a PAWS veterinarian. "So we'll get her out of here now."

Each bear was loaded into a cage and driven high in the mountains for a dose of tough love.

Dogs bark, people yell, and agents fire beanbags at the bear to cement the memory that staying in the woods is better than getting near humans.

The people who raised her could only watch the painful sendoff, knowing success means never seeing this bear again.

PAWS is non-profit. If you would like to support their work, go to www.paws.org