Premature Babies Loose Their Mother In The Spring Bear Hunt
The Russian brown bear hunt continues again this year. Every year the IFAW Bear Rescue Center and IFAW staff in Russia work to improve hunting regulations so that brown bear cubs stop becoming the victims of a careless sport that not only threatens a species but carries little penalty for the hunters that shoot female, mother bears.
This year is no exception. Possibly humiliated by his acts, an unidentified hunter sent bear cubs unaccompanied to the rescue center in a taxi. Here's the story:
The rescue center received a telephone call from a district in the Tver Region of Russia regarding three newborn baby bear cubs. The person who called the center did not identify himself. He stated that he was calling on behalf of the hunters’ association “Gamekeeper”.
According to the unidentified caller, a female, mother bear was frighteningly persuaded out of her den. Hunters proceeded to follow her for some distance. The stress of the chase provoked an early delivery of her cubs. Unfortunately, this happens quite often in these hunts and the mother is forced to build a primitive bed for the birth. The hunters killed the mother before she had a chance.
When the IFAW Bear Rescue Center hear of this, they offered to go to the location and pick up the bears, however their offer to help was declined. With no other option the rescue center instructed the unidentified caller on how to care of the new born cubs, while paying special attention to keeping them warm.
At 10:00 that night the baby bear cubs were unexpectedly delivered to the rescue center by a taxi driver, in a box covered with only a light cloth and were very cold.
Upon arriving at the warm premises of the rescue center, the cubs were carefully examined. The three cubs were identified as one male and two females. Prematurely born, the cubs were extremely small; 21 cm long and weighing only around 350 grams (a new born cub usually weighs 450-500 grams). One of the females had wounds and swellings on her body.
Caregivers offered the cubs warm milk. The male and one of the females drank six grams of milk each. The wounded female refused. Overnight, the cubs were fed warm milk every three hours. Over the course of the night the wounded female only drank five grams of milk in total, the other two drank 15-25 grams each time.
Sadly, the wounded female died the following day. A postmortem examination of the female showed extensive injuries to the inner organs. These were most likely a result of the mother bear accidentally stepping on the cub in a hast when chased by the hunters.
In the following days the other female began to loose appetite and showed symptoms of illness. Though all the efforts to save her life were made, she died of pneumonia.
Currently the male is recovering at the rescue center. He is being rehabilitated by the best caregivers in Russia so we are hoping for the best! He has gained 200 grams in 10 days and is receiving 24 hour care.
This sad experience emphasizes the importance of lobbying the government to introduce a ban on bear den hunting. As a result of IFAWs lobbying, this year a ban on bear den hunting began on January 15th in the Tver Region. Just after the mother of these cubs was shot.