Scottsdale-based Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center releases rescued bears into the wild

Nov 22, 2022, 4:25 AM

(Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center Photo)...

(Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center Photo)

(Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center Photo)

PHOENIX — Five young bears the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center rescued last year have been released into the wild. Arizona Game and Fish Department partnered with the center based in Scottsdale in the effort.

“Rehabilitating baby bears is no small feat,” Kim Carr, animal care manager at SWCC, said in a press release. “It costs about $30 per day to feed just one baby bear — and Southwest had five for most of this year. We couldn’t be happier to see how big and strong these little ones have grown.”

Black bears are the only bears that live in Arizona, primarily in forests and woodlands with elevations from 4,000-10,000 feet.

Three of the five bears arrived at the conservation center in August 2021. Two were found in the Navajo Nation next to their deceased mother and were too young to survive in the wild on their own. The sow died in a vehicle collision.

Another was brought in by AZGFD after it was found alone south of Tucson. Efforts to locate the mother were unsuccessful.

The fifth cub found was seen by monks at the Saint Paisius Orthodox Monastery in Safford alone and malnourished. It was dehydrated, had pneumonia and ringworm.

The three eldest bears were released over the summer and the other two in September.

“It’s always a little nerve-wracking, the morning of a big release like this one,” Dr. Leo Egar, director of animal health, welfare and survival at SWCC, said in the release. “We just want everything to go smoothly and for the kids to go home safe. This is why we do what we do.”

There are approximately 2,500 black bears in Arizona.

People can call AZGFD at 623-236-7201 to report situations involving bears.

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Scottsdale-based Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center releases rescued bears into the wild