The First Bear Cubs Arrive

at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue

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Dear Supporters,

A month ago, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue received a call from the Department of Fish and Wildlife asking if we had room to house two black bear cubs from Siskiyou County. The cubs had become orphaned in a fire and due to an increasing number of orphaned black bear cubs needing care, the Department of Fish and Wildlife reached out to us to see if we could rehabilitate the young cubs in one of our existing enclosures, activating our permit to rehabilitate black bear cubs much sooner than expected. Looking at our existing large predator enclosure, we got right to work making the modifications needed to house these two cubs. Over the past several months, we have been requesting help with Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue’s next phase in development, the Apex Predator Enclosure, or APE. In the past month alone, it has become extremely clear how desperately this enclosure is needed. Destruction caused by California wildfires continue to present orphaned black bear cubs needing care at rehabilitation centers.

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Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Famini and Animal Care Director, Danielle McGuire, conduct an intake exam of an orphaned black bear cub.

The sibling black bear cubs arrived one at a time to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, and each one underwent a sedated exam on intake. We discovered that we were caring for one male c and one female. Despite being orphaned for some time, both were found to be in good health, with only a couple mild indicators of their previous predicament. This week, we were notified that up to two more orphaned black bears may be coming to us from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. If both bear cubs come into care at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, this addition would bring the total number to four bear cubs.

From the beginning, we have been very quiet about the bears’ presence at our rescue. The bear cubs are housed in a secluded area of our wildlife rehabilitation community. We’ve asked that volunteers completely avoid the area, and until today, we have not discussed their presence at the rescue with anyone outside of our own staff. The reason we are being so cautious with their care is to protect the cubs themselves. Rehabilitating black bear cubs is a great privilege and we are very honored that the department has entrusted us to do so. When it comes to their futures back in the wild, we must be extremely careful in handling their care every single day that they are here. The best way we can do that is limiting their exposure to humans in every way possible.

Trail camera footage of black bear cub siblings playing. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is utilizing trail cameras as a valuable, hands off tool in tracking each cub's progression.

All four black bear cubs share a 50x25 foot chain link enclosure that was built in 2006 for the rehabilitation of bobcats or coyotes. Although we are meeting the minimum standards for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, this is only a temporary fix, and our goals of constructing the first phase of the larger Apex Predator Enclosure, a 50x150 foot enclosure, would be best for these efforts.

Bear cubs arriving at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue before the construction of this enclosure was not a reality that we had planned on. However, these bears need our help. Today, we are reaching out to ask for your help with this effort.

There are four key areas where we need your help:

Food Donations

The expression “hungry as a bear” takes on a whole new meaning when you have 4 growing bear cubs with unrelenting appetites. Each cub currently eats 25 pounds of food a day. With four bear cubs, that is 700 pounds of food every week! We need ongoing help into the future providing food for these bear cubs. If you would like to donate food, please visit our website to read more about what they can eat, and to sign up for a time to donate food.

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Diet preparation totaling 140 pounds of food, feeding two cubs for three days. SCWR's Animal Care Team thoughtfully disperses food throughout the entire enclosure, including areas that are hard to reach, encouraging foraging instincts in the cubs.

Financial Donations

Being that it was an emergency situation, the cub’s current enclosure is big enough to temporarily house these four cubs until their return into the wild. We must be prepared that the ongoing influx of bear cubs needing care will be a growing reality into the future. This has put the development of our Apex Predator Enclosure into high gear. Additionally, as the cost of construction and materials continues to increase, we must continually raise our fundraising goal. While we anticipated a $190,000 price, the cost for this project has quickly jumped to $250,000.

The Apex Predator Enclosure (APE) will not only give us the space to care for more cubs than we are currently capable of, but it will also expand our capacity to care for cubs with special needs, such as burned paws due to wildfires. To date, we’ve made great strides in fundraising for this enclosure, raising just over $90,000 of the roughly $250,000 needed. To proceed, we need further financial donations to support the APE construction. If you can make a financial contribution of any size, please click the link below.

Donate Today

Black bear cub exploring their enclosure.

Construction Assistance

Over the past few months, we’ve reached out to many companies to work with in the initial stages of construction. With current worker shortages and the high demand for work, this stage of the Apex Predator Enclosure has been easier said than done. Many of the companies that we have met with simply do not have the time or the staff to help with such a large project. We are actively seeking fencing companies and need your help finding someone who may be up for the task. If you know of anyone that may be able to help, please contact Executive Director, Doris Duncan, using the link below, or by simply replying to this email.

SCWR Staff work together to quickly and quietly set up enrichment for the black bear cubs. The extra effort spent in advanced preparations reduces time and human noise inside the enclosure, limiting the bears' exposure to humans. During feedings, the bears are housed inside their den houses, with very limited visibility of our Animal Care Team.

Trail camera footage of a black bear cub interacting with sunflower enrichment.

Your Understanding

The final area you can help us with is your personal advocacy for these cubs and supportive understanding of what it takes to safely release them back into the wild. With these bear cubs, we will continue to be guarded in their presence here at the center. Even today, we are limiting our announcement to this email, letting only you, our supporters, know about these bear cubs with the hopes of limiting foot traffic and phone calls coming into the center from curious onlookers. While we want to be able to share all aspects of their time here at the center, we recognize that spending any more time in their enclosure than necessary for their care will only work against our goal of releasing these bears back into wild, and we hope you understand.

Whenever we face a new challenge at the rescue, we are so grateful to have such thoughtful supporters to turn to for help. Your continued passion and advocacy for wildlife motivates us in our mission. We hope the arrival of these cubs inspires you to help in any way that you can.


Doris Duncan

Executive Director

Help Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue care for more black bear cubs by donating towards the construction of our Apex Predator Enclosure today!

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