The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said they have rescued two orphaned Newtown cubs after their mother was killed.
The cubs will be placed in the care of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, according to DEEP officials.
Officials said they were able to safely tranquilize the first cub and they waited at the scene for the second one to climb down. Both bears have now been tranquilized, and appear very healthy.
DEEP initially wanted to keep the cubs in the wild but changed course and decided to try and rescue the two orphan cubs after outrage from community members and animal advocates.
The two cubs have been without a mother since Thursday.
A Newtown homeowner took a video of them not long before she said she heard their mama bear, known as Bobbi to community members, get shot. Bobbi was recognized by her ear tag.
DEEP said the investigation into the shooting continues, as they worked Monday to capture the cubs.
“It’s like this community has been nothing but compassionate for these cubs, and they loved Bobbi, so this is the least we can do for these cubs,” said Annie Hornish, Connecticut State Director of the U.S. Humane Society.
Over the past couple of days, community members and animal advocates have been up in arms frustrated by the lack of response by DEEP, who said it planned to originally keep the cubs in the wild.
“These cubs are too young. In nature, the mother would protect them for a while longer,” Hornish said.
Hornish and members of the CT Wildlife Rehabilitation Association (CWRA) said they located the bears at a perfect place to be rescued Sunday, but mentioned that DEEP took hours to respond.
“Seven state legislators got involved yesterday. Four of them came here in person last night to advocate for the cubs and they reached out to the commissioner of DEEP and to the governor’s office,” Hornish said.
She and CWRA board member Deborah Galle believe this is the only reason why DEEP responded Monday.
“Otherwise, they would have left the bears. They wanted this to go away quietly and it's putting the bear cubs at great risk,” Hornish said.
“It seems like it’s really simple in this day and age to just mobilize quickly and get everything you need to respond very, very quickly for something like this, but it’s absolutely not that simple. You know, staff are not located here in Newtown,” said Jenny Dickson, director of the wildlife division for DEEP.
Dickson said DEEP has had successful outcomes in keeping young cubs in their natural habitat, despite questions that the state’s website says cubs wean at seven months, and these little ones are believed to be just four-and-a-half months old.
“That’s always our first goal, to try and keep wild animals wild. A lot of times that does give them the best chance to grow up and be healthy adults. But there are a lot of factors that come into play with that,” Dickson said.
“At the end of day, the most important thing is that we’re going to try and do what’s best for these cubs and I’m really grateful that the residents of Connecticut care about wildlife as much as they do,” she continued.
Both DEEP officials and animal advocates are still reminding everyone not to feed bears or these orphaned cubs.
The investigation into Bobbi's shooting continues. While wildlife officials have not released any details about it, animal advocates believe Bobbi’s death could have been prevented.
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