Watch Orphaned Bear Cubs Get Released Back Into Wild After Mom Was Shot Dead

Two bear cubs who were orphaned after their mother was shot dead have been released back into the wild by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) with help from a nearby zoo.

A video showing the release was posted to Facebook on February 4 and has since received hundreds of positive reactions on the social media site.

It shows staff attending to the release of two cubs that the CPW said were orphaned in a suspected poaching incident in July 2021, when the bear's mother was shot and killed near Woodland Park.

CPW said it had formed a partnership with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in southwest Colorado Springs where the bear's mother was killed with the aim of promoting conservation. The partnership formed after discussions with residents led to the creation of the Springs Bear Smart Task Force with a mission to reduce human-bear conflict in the area.

Colorado's Operation Game Thief has received more than 2,400 reports of poaching in the state since 1981 with more than 700 convictions for related offenses handed out during that time.

The CPW footage shows District Wildlife Manager Corey Adler describe how the cubs had been taken in and looked after following the poaching incident in summer 2021.

The bears, he said, were tranquilized and fitted with electronic tags on their ears to track their movements before being transferred up to their release point on Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. After their journey, the footage showed the cubs being dragged on sleds through the snow down to an artificial den that was built by staff on the mountain.

After they were placed in the den, the bears were given drugs to reverse the effect of the tranquilizers and wake them up inside their new temporary home.

CPW said that the ear tags attached to the bears were provided by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo as part of a research project that hopes to answer questions about how bear cubs behave after leaving the den.

"We are excited about this partnership with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which had asked how it could help Colorado Parks and Wildlife deal with pressing conservation issues," Travis Sauder, CPW's acting area wildlife manager for the Pikes Peak region, said in a statement.

"Of course, urban bear conflict is one of our single biggest issues, especially bears getting into garbage at area homes and businesses. It will be extremely valuable to study the effectiveness of our rehabilitation efforts with orphaned bear cubs and see if they really do learn to avoid humans in the future. We're grateful to the zoo for its partnership with us."

Colorado CPW with orphaned bear cubs
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Corey Adler is pictured with one of a pair of orphaned bear cubs. The mother of the cubs was shot in a suspected poaching incident in July 2021. The cubs have been released back into the wild. Colorado Parks and Wildlife