Bear Journal 2014
Kaulana joins Cinder and Koa
Our newest arrival is a tiny 16lb cub we named Kaulana (Hawaiian for celebrated) who came on 12/2/14. He was found orphaned in New Merry Canyon in Washington. Our transport team, Larry & Terri Limburg (and dog Grace) met WA halfway to bring him back to IBBR.
No idea how he became an orphan, but he had some slight burns so may have been separated from his mom during the fires in WA. Both his upper right and left canine teeth were broken and he had a small corneal ulcer in his right eye. The vet says the ulcer should heal fine on its own and the burns did not need any further treatment.
Because both Koa and Cinder were ready for hibernation, we had a decision to make. Kaulana was far too underweight to hibernate and needed to be fed daily. The only way to stop feeding the other two and continue to feed him was to put him in an enclosure by himself. Normally that's what we would do. However, we felt both Koa and Cinder needed to merge and it would be best for Kaulana if he was part of that now, not later in spring. Also Koa had been alone in rehab and we strongly felt he needed to have the company of another bear. So we put Kaulana in with Koa.
Koa was very excited to have another bear to wrestle and chase with, but being so much bigger he had to tone it down. Kaulana avoided him for a bit and if he got too pushy Kaulana put him in his place. Normally when merging bears, the newest arrival rules the roost for the first few days at least and the other bears will run from him. Finally Koa just couldn't stand it any longer and said "we are going to play". While they get along fine, the two of them are still working out how rough Koa can be and how aggressive Kaulana has to be to offset his size difference and keep Koa toned down.
Koa and Kaulana are now buddies, but Koa is obviously the leader telling Kaulana where to go and what to do like an older brother. Like most kids at times, Kaulana doesn't listen and does his own thing. Koa is somewhat possessive of him, but also protective. Koa had to teach him how best to get down off the deck area and worked pretty hard at it. Now Kaulana shinnies down the tree limbs like a pro. Recently Koa escorted him over to the hammock area and showed him the fun part of being in the hammock. It's adorable to watch.
After a few days we opened the gate to let Cinder join the two of them. As we expected, the merge with all three bears is progressing slowly. Cinder being almost two years old doesn't necessarily need bears to play and wrestle with, but even she could benefit from the exposure to the other cubs since she has been alone since she was found in August. Normally as a yearling at that time of year, her mother would have sent her out on her own. However, we have merged cubs of the year, yearlings, and two year olds with no problem. We felt Cinder would benefit from being with the other two. Also, when the time comes in spring Kaulana and Cinder will be released together so hoping they will develop a relationship now. While they may separate on release, it's likely Kaulana will never be a really big bear so it would be great if they stayed together for a while with Cinder as buddy during the initial discovery time of being free again.
Cinder may choose to den separately or she may choose to slowly develop a relationship with the other two. As always, it's up to the bears to merge if they want and on their own time frame. If they wish to den separately or not den at all, it's okay. Bears will be bears and they know what is best for them so we don't try to force anything. We make the options available and help or aid them as needed based on what they want to do.
Kaulana is putting on weight, eating like he should and with time will have enough weight to hibernate. Then we will stop the fruit and goodies, leave the dog food and water available, and usually the bears will all hibernate at that time if the weather cooperates. It's been fairly warm so far. If it turns cold the bears will probably den up as it's not worth coming out for just dog food. They all have dens full with bedding and protected - we anticipate that by end of January or first of February Kaulana can hibernate if he wishes. Usually by mid-March they are up and about again.
Every bear that comes into a rehab program has a story, but Cinder's story is heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time. One bear in need and so many people stepped in and came together to help this one bear. While all of us doing wildlife rehabilitation take on the huge responsibility of caring for these animals, we can't do what we do without people who care seeing to it the injured and orphaned wildlife get help, whatever it takes. Cinder's story included that one someone and then many others who stepped up.
Cinder was badly burned in the Carlton Complex fire in Methow Valley, Washington. Steve Love first saw Cinder as she was later named, when she wandered onto his property July 31. She wasn't able to put weight on her paws and was using he elbows to move. When she settled down in a shady, grassy area he picked apricots from a tree and took those and some water to her. She accepted both. Steve said she drank a huge amount of water, ate some dog food and the apricots.
When Steve heard her crying a bear kind of cry, he went to her and sat with her, talking in a soothing way and telling her she was going to be okay. The next day Washington Dept. Of Fish and Wildlife came to get her. She way lying under a horse trailer on her side, paws in the air. The officer, Jason Day couldn't tranquilize her because she was so small (about 39 pounds- very underweight for a yearling) so he used a catch pole with a loop on the end to capture her.
He took her to Rich Beausoleil, the bear and cougar specialist. Rich was able to immobilize her with a drug and then cleaned and washed her wounds. He then called IBBR as we have rehabbed many bears for WA over the years. When we heard how badly she was burned, we suggested she would be better off with Cheryl & Tom Millham at Lake Tahoe Wildlife. They had successfully rehabbed a badly burned bear several years earlier and we felt this bear would benefit most from their expertise and knowledge from that experience. If she recovered she could come to IBBR for last stage of her rehab before release back in WA.
Before she left for Lake Tahoe Wildlife, veterinarian Randy Heim took hours to clean all the wounds and burns again. Her elbows were raw from crawling on them. On Aug 4, pilot Bill Inman volunteered to fly Cinder (as she was now called) to Lake Tahoe Wildlife. They met the plane and Cinder began her rehab that same day. Lake Tahoe Wildlife did an amazing job with Cinder. They gave their full attention and efforts to help her recover. They changed her dressing every other day and she was on antibiotics and pain medication. It was a slow recovery, but Cinder was a fighter and recover she did, thanks to the wonderful care by the staff of Lake Tahoe Wildlife.
Finally, it was time she start the second stage of her recovery. She weighed 39 pounds on her arrival there and now weighed 97 pounds. After a final health check, with her wounds and paws healed, arrangements were made for Cheryl and Tom to bring their amazing patient to IBBR. Now she needed time to toughen up the pads of her paws and to hibernate until spring when she would return to Washington for release. They began the long drive to IBBR on 11/23 arriving late in the afternoon. Cinder's new home was all ready for her. There was a lot of media interest which followed her from the time she was found and through her time at Lake Tahoe Wildlife. We agreed to let them film Cinder's arrival if they kept very quiet so as not to startle her. It was very important her stress level and anxiety be kept to a minimum. However, we also recognized there was so much interest in her progress and her story and this was another chapter they needed to follow.
Cinder Update 11/30/14
Cinder has adjusted nicely to life at IBBR. She is a very calm bear, but quite capable of making her displeasure known by woofing and clapping her lips. We have Koa (our bear from WY) in the back part of the main enclosure & Cinder has the front section. When/if they show they are ready to merge, we will open the gate and allow them both full run of the enclosure. Cinder seems quite happy with her enclosure - has thoroughly inspected it as they always do. Her favorite den is what we call the 2nd story den that sits on top of 3 other dens. The first couple of nights she slept in the hay on the ground, but then moved to the 2nd story den and has used it nightly since then. She is eating good and spending her days being very lethargic. That is the first sign of being ready for hibernation and her weight is sufficient to support hibernation. She has been pulling more hay into the den, also a sign of preparing for hibernation. However, the weather needs to turn colder first. When it does, if she still shows signs of denning we will stop giving her the fruit and goodies. There will always be water and dry dog food available, but when they are ready to hibernate, most bears ignore the dog food. When they are ready to hibernate they will so we are watching her for signs that she is ready.
Koa Update 11/9/14
No set date yet, but looks like Cinder, the burned WA bear currently at Lake Tahoe Wildlife may join Koa in a week or so to hibernate at IBBR before release next spring back in WA. We are very excited for her arrival and for Koa to have a buddy. He is very good at entertaining himself as you will see from the new videos, but assuming they merge together he will be a happy bear to have someone to wrestle and play with beside the apples & logs and poles. Even though Cinder is a yearling, there shouldn't be any problem merging them after a while. We have merged yearlings and cubs of the year and even two-year olds. It's really up to the two of them. Cinder will stay in the front of the enclosure & Koa in back and they will tell us when they are ready to open the gate between them. Then it will definitely be up to them when or if they merge and begin playing and being together. We are expecting that to happen, but also aware it's their choice. The enclosure is large enough they can both be in it and maintain their own areas if they want. However, from past experience we just don't see that happening.
Koa is out more each day, putting on weight, and playing a lot. The other day a very nice person dropped off some huge sunflowers and he ripped into those seeds to get them out. Finally, in frustration he walked away and came back 3 times. The last time he turned the sunflower upside down, picked it up by the stalk and ran back to his den under the upside down swim tub. I think he decided he needed time to really work on it and didn't like being out in the open.
Amy says we might need to call the program Hoarders to help him. As bears do he has begun dragging anything and everything in & around his den. Before Cinder arrives, we'll have to roust him out for an hour or two and clean it up, change the hay (and then he can do it all again). She may or may not den with him, but if they want to den together when the time comes, there won't be much room if he keeps this up.
The Facebook team will put the new videos on Facebook and we will load them on the website as well. We will also have them on our Razoo Giving Tuesday page for 12/2/14. It has been a long process learning the necessary steps to get the video from our monitoring system to a format you can see and that YouTube will accept, and edit them. FINALLY, I have each step in the process documented so it's going smoothly, but is time-consuming. All at the same time I'm watching the conversion format on the monitor system, new videos to sort the good & bad, the cameras monitoring Koa during the day, editing completed video on my desktop, and finally uploading them to YouTube. Talk about multi-tasking... or maybe it should be called going crazy. I'm also finally getting the editing process down and combining some of the short clips into one video. Academy Awards here we come!
WYOMING CUB ARRIVES at IBBR
IBBR received a call from WY Game & Fish on Tuesday 9/2/14 abou tan orphaned cub. They aren't sure what happend to mom. Bears are born in Jan/Feb so we would age him 6-7 months old. WY estimated 30 lbs and while he is a small bear, he was in good shape.
After some back and forth organizing permits, health certificates, people, and transport plans, IBBR & WY Game & Fish met in Snowville, UT on Friday 9/5 to transfer the cub. He is a male, beautiful light brown (almost blonde in some pictures). He appears to be a very calm bear, taking things in stride with a somewhat cautious attitude. Since we don't know any history we don't know yet if that is his personality or due to outside influences or both. Did someone have him for a while - did he just get used to taking care of himself in whatever way he could finding food around people? As time goes by and we observe him (he doesn't know he has a stalker watching him 24/7 now on the enclosure cameras) we will be able to tell more. Also, as he gets older, his behavior will change as well.
Thanks to ID Fish & Game for pushing through the permit process so we could get him here quickly. And, a huge thanks to everyone at WY Game and Fish for taking whatever steps needed to get him to IBBR for rehab. IBBR is so pleased that WY Game & Fish is looking to rehab and not placing orphaned cubs in zoos or sanctuaries. We have put out the alert to other state wildlife agencies that he needs a buddy if they have any orphaned cubs or yearlings needing help.
On arrival here about 630p, we hauled carrier & bear back to the main enclosure, opened the door and quietly waited... and waited... and waited. Some dart out and make a mad dash away, but he sat in the opening for about 20 minutes deciding if he wanted to come out or not.
Finally, a few tentative steps and he was out. He circled the carrier and cautiously looked around, staying close to it as the carrier was his last known "safe place." Then he spotted the open gate to the back and walked purposely through it and to the back part of the enclosure. Most often new bears pick the corner in the northwest side - they seem to feel safer there in the beginning and that's what he did.
He remained behind one of the log structures covering a den and then gravitated out from there to check out the rest of the enclosure. For the next 2 hours he wandered all around the enclosure, climbing the wire, checking out all the dens, discovering the high deck area, finding the grassy areas, drinking from the swim tub and since we were now gone, going back to the front part. We left the carrier in there for him since new arrivals will sometimes choose to sleep there the first night.
About 930pm he discovered the hammock and the deck area below it. Below the deck area is a very dark, perfect den area. Once he found that, he went in there and there he stayed until dusk the next day. After he had thoroughly investigated all around the enclosure, we figured he would hole up for a while to recover from the stress of the last few days. At dusk on Sunday, he came out and once again wandered the enclosure. He bypassed any food, drank some water and then disappeared back under the deck area. He came out again about 10pm, had a late dinner, drank some water, stuck his paw in the swim tub to test the water, and then went back to bed... Hopefully, he made a bathroom stop first.
He came out again twice more until about 1130pm and then stayed until dusk on Monday. That will probably be his routine for a few days and then he should start being more active during the day once he is adjusted to the enclosure. We took a quick look this AM and he had eaten a lot of fruit and food so expect he will sleep until dark. We'll live with him for a week or so and then select a name for him.
If you read this and live in the Treasure Valley, call us with any fruit, carrots, or acorns you might have.
The Wyoming cub arrived the afternoon of 9/5 and here it is 9/20. For the first day and a half he just hid out under the deck below the hammock. It's hard in the beginning to know if or how much he is eating when it's scattered around so we put a small black bin in filled with fruit and then we knew he was at least eating that. It was several days before we captured him on the monitor system after dark and he was easily spooked. One minute he was there and the next he was gone.
After several days he moved to the upside down swim tub in the back of the enclosure. We gave him grass hay which he promptly pulled inside just as he did under the deck area below the hammock. He also has a couple of stumps which he has pushed up in front to block anyone from seeing him. Then he started coming out after dark to eat and I've been able to watch him on the monitor cameras. Sometimes when I look away while working he will just disappear into one of the dark areas so I assume he went back to the upside down tub. Considering he had been showing up in town before he was captured, we were alert to that fact and watched to see if once he associated the food with our being in the enclosure he would come out and try to socialize. It hasn't been farther from the truth - he is extremely elusive & has no interest in coming out when Amy feeds or cleans and waits until late in the day or after dark. On 9/10 he finally came out about 630-700p when still daylight and ate the fruit scattered around. He loves plums, likes the apples, loves the grapes and acorns - not so much on the carrots or any vegetables. So far he hasn't shown much interest in the fish or venison, but that's not unusual. Later this fall and again in spring after hibernation he will probably eat that food.
There are cows in the pasture behind us and the next day while he was out eating in the evening, one of them let out a loud MOOOOOOO. He immediately ran for the closest secure area which was under the deck of the hammock. For the next 3 days he made that his hiding place until he got used to the smell and sound of the cows in the back pasture and then moved back into the upside down tub.
He is not interested in seeing any people and has made that clear. When Amy feeds and cleans she is in and out quickly since due to concerns about his behavior while orphaned. She checks to see where he is hiding and make sure he is okay. He crouches down low to the ground under the tub or deck so she can only see his eyes or rests his head on one of the stumps thinking he's completely hidden from view. Very cute!
He has been very cleaver in hiding his scat - at first Amy was happy he seemed to have 3 spots that he used all the time and made it quick to pick it all up. As he ate more, he began leaving scat all over the enclosure in very difficult spots to reach. We aren't convinced it was just coincidence....bears are very smart and he was just claiming the whole enclosure as his own. On 9/14 he made the rounds of the whole enclosure after dark checking it all out. Bears will normally do a thorough inspection at least once & if they don't find a way out, they stop looking after that. He spent a couple of hours during the night looking in every nook and cranny.
He had previously checked out the swim tub, but we also had a small tub in the front section and he used that to drink water and after a few days to soak in making sure he got plenty of dirt in it. He had dipped his paw early on in the swim but, but showed no interest in it. During his nightly inspection on the 14th, he went up the logs pilled up to the swim tub. He walked around the rim, gingerly stepped on the big branch still in the water that mom, Kapiolani used to get in the water with her injured leg. Unfortunately, he wasn't as agile or careful as Kapiolani and he fell in. It shocked him for a few seconds and he froze, then he lunged out and ran. He tried again the next night and did much better - still only stayed in for a minute or two. The next night he actually did a belly flop on purpose into the tub, found that was fun, swam around in a circle and then tore out and ran around the enclosure dragging water everywhere.
On 9/17 when Amy peeked under the tub he gave her one of those "looks" and clapped his lips at her. The clapping turned out woofing and spitting the next day so it was clear the honeymoon period was over for Amy. He made it clear she could stop checking on him under the tub as he was just fine. He has settled in now and has made the whole enclosure his own. Hoping another bear will arrive soon to keep him company get the wrestling and chase games started.
It's been hard to pick a name since he is so elusive. However, we have named him Koa after the Koa tree in Hawaii. Although the wood comes in different shades, what struck me was the curly Koa wood had that same beautiful blonde coloring as he does when the sun shines on his coat. Koa in Hawaiian also means brave, bold, fearless and considering he has boldly banned Amy from checking on him now, we think it fits.
We have a GoPro camera that Amy is anxiously waiting to wear on her head or chest to capture video and/or snapshots as she feeds and cleans, but so far the bear has been absent. Even if she went in after dark when he is out and about, she won't be getting any bear pictures as he will run and hide - just what we hope and expect him to do. Maybe if another bear comes in, we'll be able to use it to get some bear wrestling when they are absorbed in what they are doing.
We have some video of Koa playing in the swim tub to share with you. As we speak, I'm editing more video, but he is a pretty elusive bear. He spooks easily and while he does come out during the day now, he is very cautious. There is some cute video of him playing chase with himself that I'll get edited and post soon. He has gained weight, looks great and taken ownership of the enclosure using every area of it.
He likes to nap on top of the deck area in back. One day as I observed him napping, he heard something, but was too lazy to really get up to check out the noise. Instead he sat up, slid on his fanny over to the horizontal pole at the edge of the deck, placed both paws and his chin on the pole and just sat there trying to decide if it was worth getting up or not. Little hard to see as the camera is on the other side of the enclosure, but very cute on his part. There are some days when I know just how he felt about getting up.
It's getting colder and while it's not time for hibernation, he is eating like it is and is piling up the hay inside what we think will be his chosen den, the upside down swim tub. He rearranges the logs and hay periodically and continues to play the "can you see me now" game with Amy Kidwell each day as she feeds and cleans. Since we never see him during that time, Amy will peek under the tub to see if he is okay or if he has moved to another spot. He is almost always there - sometimes he will stretch his paws out for her to see, sometimes a nose, sometimes his eyes peering back at her. Most times he will woof and clap his lips to discourage any further interruption in his snoozing. His mood depends on how much he allows her to see or the language he uses on any given day. Sometimes it appears he is moving the logs around to block her view and other times it appears he is making it easier in hopes she will just go away faster. Regardless, it's all behavior that indicates his displeasure at this human "checking up on him", which is good. The majority of the time he sees no one and all we see of him is via the cameras.