NDOW Releases Orphaned Bear Cubs Back into the Wild - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

NDOW Releases Orphaned Bear Cubs Back into the Wild

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Photo Courtesy of NDOW Photo Courtesy of NDOW

After nearly a year, four orphaned bear cubs were released back into the wild on Wednesday. They were transported by car and helicopter to get to their new home in the Lake Tahoe backcountry.

It's been a big operation for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Officials rescued the cubs 10 months ago after they were found by a residential home in Stateline. The four cubs, two girls and two boys, were placed at Animal Ark after their momma bear died. They had little to no human contact and ate food to mimic their natural diet.

The cubs each weighed around 7 pounds when they were found last year. As of their release, they weigh 60-100 pounds. 

This past fall, they were put into hibernation. On Wednesday, NDOW tranquilized and blindfolded the bears before taking them from Animal Ark to Washoe Valley. Then the bears were flown by helicopter to their denning sites in pairs.

"When they wake up later on this spring in a month or two, they'll be on their own and hopefully they'll do good. They'll stay out of trouble," said Carl Lackey, with NDOW. 

The pilot didn't miss where to land with a giant sign outlined in the snow, reading "BEARS". Two igloo dog houses were waiting for the bears. After being placed inside, their enclosures were buried with snow.Their new home may be quite the shock after their long nap, but NDOW is confident they will thrive as wild bears in the Tahoe forest. 

Chris Healy, spokesperson for NDOW said, "Animals in a cage don't always serve a wonderful purpose, even though we get a chance to see them, we'd much prefer that they be wild out there and making their own way through nature. So this is considered a victory for us."

The bears have satellite collars to track their movements over the next couple of years. 

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