ALPINE — For seven years, Lions, Tigers & Bears — the animal sanctuary located in Alpine, has rescued injured, abandoned and abused wild game, mostly big cats, but they have never had a bear — until now. That fact changed over the holiday weekend when founder Bobbi Brink received an urgent call from California Fish & Game, asking for her help.
The yearling black bear, weighing 60 pounds and named “Liberty” by the children of Fish & Game Field Agent Kevin Brennan who rescued the animal, was brought to Lions, Tigers & Bears on July 4 to help save the young bear’s life.
Every year, as yearlings leave their mothers, many wander into campgrounds where severely threatens their chances of survival. Brennan, who captured Liberty at the Mankar campground in the Mt. Baldy area, said visitors who think it’s a good idea to feed these young animals don’t realize they’re signing a death warrant for the animal.
“A fed bear is a dead bear,” said Brennan, urging the public to use restraint. “Enjoy seeing the bears, take a picture, but please don’t interact with them or feed them.”
Once dependent on humans for food, these bears continue to frequent the campgrounds and become a danger to campers. At this point, Fish & Game is called in, but the bears cannot be relocated or rehabilitated, and the only solution is euthanasia — with numbers reaching anywhere from six to 12 young bears euthanized annually due to human contact.
Liberty’s story will turn out differently.
“For years, we have received calls from Fish & Game, as well as other rescues, trying to find placement for bears needing a home,” Brink said. “We were grateful to have the ability provide assistance when Fish & Game called this time, and to offer a safe haven for this young bear, preventing what otherwise may have been another tragic outcome for an amazing animal.”
Unfortunately, despite Brink’s desire to make Liberty a permanent resident of Lions, Tigers & Bears, it may only be a temporary home for the young bear if new accommodations are not made quickly. Liberty will soon outgrow the current temporary enclosure and require a much larger and secure containment area. Brink is urgently seeking $100,000 in donations within the next few weeks, so that an expanded enclosure can be constructed.
Future plans at Lions, Tigers & Bears rescue also call for a Native Species Conservation Station, where rescued bears, mountain lions and other Californian wildlife can live and serve as ambassadors to teach residents about our living wildlife heritage. Part of that plan includes a rehabilitation center, with the ultimate goal of releasing back into the wild as many bears as possible.
For more information or to make a donation, visit the Lions, Tigers & Bears website at www.lionstigersandbears.org.
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