News Releases

April 24, 2017

Conservation Community Comes Together to Rescue Bear Cubs

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has worked with multiple conservation partners to rescue several bear cubs in recent weeks. These cubs, who were born during a particularly high birth year last spring, are showing up malnourished in residential areas due to a shortage of wild food supplies in some regions this past fall.

Working in partnership with New Hampshire Fish & Game, the cubs have been delivered to bear rehabilitator Ben Kilham in Lyme, New Hampshire.

Recently a Wardsboro resident contacted the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department after finding a cub under her porch. Department biologists and game wardens evaluated the situation and determined the bear was a rare candidate for rehabilitation. Its health was so poor that it would have died within a few days if they did not intervene.

"We are grateful when concerned citizens report these bears to their local warden, rather than attempting to handle the animal themselves," said Forrest Hammond, Vermont Fish & Wildlife's lead bear biologist. "Many people mistakenly think that young animals are in distress and in need of rescue and they sometimes intervene directly, putting their safety and that of the animal at risk.

"In most situations, animals do best when they remain in the wild," said Hammond. "However, in rare instances we do come across a bear that trained wildlife professionals are able to help. After a brief period, these bears are quickly and successfully returned to the wild in Vermont."

Ben Kilham is an internationally recognized bear rehabilitator who has been researching wild bears and caring for them for decades along with his sister and wife.

"We are fortunate to have such an experienced and proven bear rehabilitator in the region, and to have a special agreement with the New Hampshire Fish & Game to be able to transport cubs into that state for care by Kilham," said Hammond. "Without his expertise, rehabilitation may not be an option for us."

The cubs will be returned to remote areas in Vermont once fully recovered and at a time when more natural foods are available.

Kilham's efforts will be assisted by a $1000 from the Vermont Bear Hound Association, who were moved to help with the bears' care after hearing about the increase in malnourished cubs.

Hammond praised the Association for their continued support of bear conservation efforts. "The Vermont Bear Hound Association continues to be a tremendous partner on a wide range of bear conservation projects," said Hammond. "They have assisted our efforts to safely capture and radio collar bears to better understand and conserve them. And they frequently assist our wardens by strategically hazing a bear that has started getting into garbage or cornfields and causing problems, which often ends up keeping the bear in the wild and ultimately saving its life."

Media Contacts: Forrest Hammond, 802-777-7493; Scott Darling, 802-777-1732

Source: Department of Fish and Wildlife
Last Updated at: April 24, 2017 16:30:26