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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Reintroduction of orphaned black bear cubs into the wild

Published source details

Alt G.L. & Beecham J.J. (1984) Reintroduction of orphaned black bear cubs into the wild. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 12, 169-174


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Place orphaned or abandoned wild young with wild foster parents Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

 A controlled study in 1973–1983 in temperate forests in Idaho and Pennsylvania, USA (Alt et al. 1984) found that orphaned black bears Ursus americanus released to wild females with cubs had higher short-term survival than did orphaned bears released alone. Ten days after release, 23 of 45 (51%) orphaned bears placed with females with cubs were seen to be in good condition, but only five of 39 (13%) cases in which orphans were released in the wild alone were deemed successful. In 1973–1983, twenty-nine cubs were released directly into dens of females with young, 11 cubs were released after chasing females and causing their young to climb trees and five cubs were placed with female bears and their young that were caught in culvert traps and then released. In seven cases, females were immobilized while the cubs were introduced. Thirty-nine orphaned bear cubs were held in captivity before being release alone into the wild. Reintroductions were regarded as successful if orphaned bears were observed with the foster mother at least 10 days after reintroduction or, for solo introductions, if animals survived for at least 30 days and did not become a nuisance to humans. Survey methods were unclear.

(Summarised by Alexandra Sutton)