Person Who Fatally Shot Bear, Orphaning Cubs, Wanted by Police

Wildlife officials are appealing to the public for help after a mother bear was shot in a Colorado park a few weeks ago, leaving her cubs orphaned.

The bear was found on July 26 by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers who were responding to a report of a dead bear and two cubs.

The officers managed to secure the two cubs, who had climbed a tree, and relocate them to the Wet Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation facility in Wetmore.

After examining the dead bear's carcass, officials determined it had been shot. They are now offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who killed the animal, according to a CPW press release published on Wednesday.

Cody Wigner, area wildlife manager for the Pikes Peak region, said in a statement: "Someone made a decision to kill this animal, orphaning her two cubs. We need to find this person."

And Corey Adler, a CPW district wildlife manager, said: "This is poaching and it's illegal and we want to catch the person who did this."

Alder called for the public's help, adding that anyone who injures or kills wildlife illegally faces charges including harassment of wildlife, illegal taking of wildlife and reckless endangerment.

According to Adler, people convicted of these charges could face a fine of up to $3,000 and half a year in jail.

Anyone with information can contact CPW at its Southeast Regional office at 719-227-5200. In addition, people can anonymously provide information about a wildlife violation by emailing or calling Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648.

Helping the Two Cubs

Meanwhile, CPW said rehabilitation staff are working to teach the mother bear's two cubs the skills they need to survive and "to restore their natural fear of humans."

The cubs are due to be released back into the wild once they are old enough. A photo shared by CPW shows them eating apples while being prepared for winter hibernation.

Through its Operation Game Thief anti-poaching program, CPW allows people to report poaching and states they don't need to provide their names or testify in court.

The agency states that studies indicate poachers may kill almost as many animals as legitimate hunters do in legal seasons, though exact numbers are not known.

It's not the first time CPW has recovered orphaned bear cubs in recent times. Last month, the wildlife agency found two bear cubs alive after they were separated from their mother following an attack that left a man injured near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The mother bear was euthanized following the attack.

CPW said they eventually found her cubs "in good health" in a Facebook post shared on August 27 and that they were due to be taken to a rehabilitation center to prepare them for hibernation.

Bear walking in woods
File photo of a bear walking through some woodland. Colorado Parks and Wildlife operates a program allowing people to report poachers. JMrocek/Getty