An orphaned male polar bear cub was observed roaming around Prudhoe Bay on Nov. 24, according to a press release by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a team of polar bear program biologists to assess the situation, who determined the approximately 11-month-old male bear should be removed from the wild population for his own welfare and concerns for potential human-bear conflict.
David Gustine, with the Fish and Wildlife Service, was quoted in a press release saying: “The decision to remove this bear from the wild was not made lightly … Removing a bear is not a good outcome for the individual or the wild population, but we felt it was the best course of action in this situation.”
Given that the bear’s young age — polar bear cubs in the wild stay with their mothers for up to 2.5 years — it will not be returned to the wild.
The cub was transported to the Alaska Zoo however it is not on public display. It was determined that the cub will remain under observation and be provided care according to the animal’s immediate needs. The bear has overall good health with a few concerns, such as being underweight and small lacerations on its upper lip.
Future determination on the long-term care of the animal will be made by the Fish and Wildlife Service after considering all options.
The last time a cub was rescued was in 2013 when a male cub — Kali — was orphaned in Point Lay and was initially cared for at the Alaska Zoo, later transferred to the Saint Louis Zoo.