Frisco Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Del Norte provided a ‘hands-off’ habitat for the siblings to grow and learn

As told by John Livingston | Colorado Parks and Wildlife

ONE night in May, Luke Clancy, a Colorado Division of Wildlife officer in Durango, got a call that a landowner had shot a bear that charged him on his property. When Clancy and other CPW officers arrived, they found two orphaned cubs up a nearby tree. 

Concerned the cubs would not survive at their young age without the support of their mother, Clancy was able to trap them and get them to the Frisco Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Del Norte.

When the cubs arrived at Frisco Creek, they weighed only 15 pounds. With no injuries, they were raised as “hands-off” as possible under the watch of facility manager Michael Sirochman. They were provided an appropriate diet and a one-third acre habitat for them to grow and learn.

In the summer of 2022, the bears enjoyed a raspberry patch in the enclosure that has other natural forage and plenty of trees to climb. Their diet was supplemented with a feed that helped them pack on pounds before release in early December.

By the time officer Clancy picked up the cubs on top of Wolf Creek Pass during a Dec. 6 snowstorm, they weighed 105 pounds. He met wildlife officer Nate Martinez, and the cubs were taken for release to national forest land in southwest Colorado, where there are good denning spots and typically strong spring forage.

The bears were released in an aspen grove on a south-facing slope where there was not much snow accumulation yet other than what snow fell that day. They had some time to find the right spot to den, and it is expected they will den together this winter. Typically, bears come out of their den together in the spring and spend a few days together before going their separate ways.

Watch the release here:

Photos and video: John Livingston, Colorado Parks Wildlife