Juneau health center workers rescue bear cub

Posted: Thursday, May 09, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Three Juneau Public Health Center workers rescued a black bear cub that appeared to be wounded and without a mother.

State biologists, however, said it's unlikely the bear will find a home.

Cindy Gallant, the center's administrative supervisor, saw the small bear near the building at about noon Tuesday. Area residents told her the cub had been around for three days and was having trouble walking. It would try to stand up, then fall.

April Carpenter, a public health nurse aide, suggested capturing the animal with a blanket, a technique sometimes used to subdue injured birds. Carpenter has volunteered at the Juneau Raptor Center.

Gallant, Carpenter and administrative clerk Michelle Hallmark found the cub near small lakes close to the health center. People were pulling over in their cars to watch. Carpenter estimated it weighed about 80 pounds.

''He was a tiny, runty bear,'' Carpenter told the Juneau Empire. ''But if there was a mama bear, all bets were off.''

Gallant and a man circled the cub as Carpenter threw the blanket over it from behind.

''He was a bit wobbly and didn't fight,'' Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the bear sat calmly in the crook of her arm as they drove to Southeast Alaska Veterinary Clinic on Glacier Highway.

Gallant said the clinic opened its doors freely to the bear. Employees of the Juneau Public Health Clinic offered to pay for its treatment.

''We want to give him a chance to grow up and become an adult bear,'' Carpenter said.

The veterinary clinic would not comment on the cub's condition. Tom Paul of the state Department of Fish and Game said the cub is being held in isolation and is eating but is dehydrated.

Paul said people ordinarily need permits from Fish and Game to keep wild animals, but because of the circumstances it has given the veterinary clinic special permission to keep the bear and find a zoo that will take it in.

Placing a black bear cub in a zoo is difficult because zoos rarely need them and they are easy to get. A black bear in Palmer has been waiting for a home, so the Juneau cub is second in line for a spot.

Paul said that because the cub has been handled by humans, it would be difficult to return it to its mother if she is alive. If the cub cannot be returned to the wild and does not find a home in a zoo, it will be euthanized.

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