Woodlands Wildlife 2008 Bear Release
Woodlands Wildlife Refuge is New Jersey's only center to care for orphaned black bears. They have been "fostering" a record 10 cubs since last June. The New Jersey Black bear population was once on the verge of extinction. Recently, black bears have been spotted all over New Jersey but are concentrated in the northwest corner of the state.
The three mothers of eight of the refuge's cubs were shot by wildlife officials last year after either breaking into or attempting to break into homes in the Vernon area, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Tracy Leaver, founder and director of Woodlands Wildlife, believes the break-ins were probably due to the bears obtaining food from people in the area.
"We need to just step away from what we want to do to make ourselves feel good and do what's right for the animals, which is just leave them alone," she said.
Click the image above to witness the largest cub release in New Jersey history!
The bears — who grew from 10 to 15 pounds to more than 180 pounds — were the healthiest, weight wise, of all the previous 26 bears which were rescued and released by Woodlands Wildlife and NJDEP Fish and Wildlife. Margo for Animals provided much of the bears' food via the Freshpet program. Leaver was confident that the addition of Freshpet to the cubs diet put them at a much healthier weight at the time of their release. The Freshpet "Loved Dog" treats were instrumental in providing oral medications to the cubs when necessary.
With the help of officials from the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife, the bears were tagged and released at an undisclosed area that would have been in their home range, but far from humans.
At about 18 months old, this is the age the bears normally would have been out on their own. Leaver expects the bears to do fine on their own — at least if they follow in the footsteps of the other 26 bears the refuge has released since 1995. Leaver said those bears have been tracked and that researchers know they haven't caused trouble anywhere.
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