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Bear cub rescued after mom hit, killed by car

"It was a nightmare," said a man who witnessed the mom bear get hit by vehicles twice on Monday.
bear cub rescue 1

A bear cub is being cared for by a wildlife rehabilitation center after its mom was hit and killed on Monday. 

"It was a nightmare," Nathan P. Johnson, who saw the sow (mama bear) get hit, told Bring Me The News on Tuesday. "I'm still devastated by this."

The bear was hit around 1:30 p.m. on north Interstate 35 at the Willow River exit. Johnson said the bear was hit and injured in the middle of the road. And then "all of the sudden" other trucks ran the bear over, killing it, he said.

The Minnesota DNR was called to the scene and Conservation Officer Dustie Speldrich issued a possession permit for the bear before learning there was also a bear cub in the area, Joe Albert of the DNR told Bring Me The News.

The bear cub in the tree after his mom was hit and killed.

The bear cub in the tree after his mom was hit and killed.

Speldrich and others at the scene couldn't immediately find the young cub but eventually, someone called Speldrish to say the bear was in a tree right in the area its mom was hit. 

They decided to live-trap the cub (lure it down and put it in a trap), so Speldrich went to her house to get a trap and milk replacement to lure the cub, Albert said. But by the time she returned, the bear was coming out of the tree on its own. Speldrich and others used a fishing net and a catchpole to catch the cub.

Speldrich then brought the cub to her house, where it spent the night, likely in her garage, Albert said. She then took the 25-pound cub, who was likely born in January, to the Garrison Animal Hospital in Garrison, which runs the nonprofit Wild and Free that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned and injured wild animals, including bears.

Johnson told Bring Me The News the bear population is thriving in the area, so people need to be aware and be on the lookout for the animals when out on the roads.

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A few weeks ago, two bear cubs were killed when they were hit by a vehicle within a half-mile of where the sow was killed on Monday, Albert said. They don't know if the two cubs that were killed previously are related to the sow and cub from Monday, but bears will often have more than one cub so it is possible. 

Garrison Animal Hospital will care for the cub until it can be released back into the wild, Albert said. According to Wild and Free's website, it cared for nine bear cubs in 2020 that were then released back into the wild earlier this spring.

Mary Roach with Wild and Free told BMTN they drew the cub's blood and weighed him, adding "he is doing well."

The cub won't be alone — he's already been introduced to the five other cubs Wild and Free has received this year, Roach said. 

"We will rehab these cubs until next spring when the DNR will come and take them up north to be released back into the wild," Roach added. 

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