September 16, 2021
Click here to read the full update, including photos and videos of the bear cubs!
A month ago, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue received a call from the Department of Fish and Wildlife asking if we had room to house two black bear cubs from Siskiyou County. The cubs had become orphaned in a fire and due to an increasing number of orphaned black bear cubs needing care, the Department of Fish and Wildlife reached out to us to see if we could rehabilitate the young cubs in one of our existing enclosures, activating our permit to rehabilitate black bear cubs much sooner than expected. Looking at our existing large predator enclosure, we got right to work making the modifications needed to house these two cubs. Over the past several months, we have been requesting help with Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue’s next phase in development, the Apex Predator Enclosure, or APE. In the past month alone, it has become extremely clear how desperately this enclosure is needed. Destruction caused by California wildfires continue to present orphaned black bear cubs needing care at rehabilitation centers.
The sibling black bear cubs arrived one at a time to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, and each one underwent a sedated exam on intake. We discovered that we were caring for one male c and one female. Despite being orphaned for some time, both were found to be in good health, with only a couple mild indicators of their previous predicament. This week, we were notified that up to two more orphaned black bears may be coming to us from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. If both bear cubs come into care at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, this addition would bring the total number to four bear cubs.
From the beginning, we have been very quiet about the bears’ presence at our rescue. The bear cubs are housed in a secluded area of our wildlife rehabilitation community. We’ve asked that volunteers completely avoid the area, and until today, we have not discussed their presence at the rescue with anyone outside of our own staff. The reason we are being so cautious with their care is to protect the cubs themselves. Rehabilitating black bear cubs is a great privilege and we are very honored that the department has entrusted us to do so. When it comes to their futures back in the wild, we must be extremely careful in handling their care every single day that they are here. The best way we can do that is limiting their exposure to humans in every way possible.
All four black bear cubs share a 50x25 foot chain link enclosure that was built in 2006 for the rehabilitation of bobcats or coyotes. Although we are meeting the minimum standards for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, this is only a temporary fix, and our goals of constructing the first phase of the larger Apex Predator Enclosure, a 50x150 foot enclosure, would be best for these efforts.
Bear cubs arriving at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue before the construction of this enclosure was not a reality that we had planned on. However, these bears need our help. Today, we are reaching out to ask for your help with this effort.
There are four key areas where we need your help:
The expression “hungry as a bear” takes on a whole new meaning when you have 4 growing bear cubs with unrelenting appetites. Each cub currently eats 25 pounds of food a day. With four bear cubs, that is 700 pounds of food every week! We need ongoing help into the future providing food for these bear cubs. If you would like to donate food, please click here to read more about what they can eat, and to sign up for a time to donate food.
Diet preparation totaling 140 pounds of food, feeding two cubs for three days. SCWR's Animal Care Team thoughtfully disperses food throughout the entire enclosure, including areas that are hard to reach, encouraging foraging instincts in the cubs.
Being that it was an emergency situation, the cub’s current enclosure is big enough to temporarily house these four cubs until their return into the wild. We must be prepared that the ongoing influx of bear cubs needing care will be a growing reality into the future. This has put the development of our Apex Predator Enclosure into high gear. Additionally, as the cost of construction and materials continues to increase, we must continually raise our fundraising goal. While we anticipated a $190,000 price, the cost for this project has quickly jumped to $250,000.
The Apex Predator Enclosure (APE) will not only give us the space to care for more cubs than we are currently capable of, but it will also expand our capacity to care for cubs with special needs, such as burned paws due to wildfires. To date, we’ve made great strides in fundraising for this enclosure, raising just over $90,000 of the roughly $250,000 needed. To proceed, we need further financial donations to support the APE construction. If you can make a financial contribution of any size, please click here.
Over the past few months, we’ve reached out to many companies to work with in the initial stages of construction. With current worker shortages and the high demand for work, this stage of the Apex Predator Enclosure has been easier said than done. Many of the companies that we have met with simply do not have the time or the staff to help with such a large project. We are actively seeking fencing companies and need your help finding someone who may be up for the task. If you know of anyone that may be able to help, please contact Executive Director, Doris Duncan, by clicking here.
The final area you can help us with is your personal advocacy for these cubs and supportive understanding of what it takes to safely release them back into the wild. With these bear cubs, we will continue to be guarded in their presence here at the center. Even today, we are limiting our announcement to this email, letting only you, our supporters, know about these bear cubs with the hopes of limiting foot traffic and phone calls coming into the center from curious onlookers. While we want to be able to share all aspects of their time here at the center, we recognize that spending any more time in their enclosure than necessary for their care will only work against our goal of releasing these bears back into wild, and we hope you understand.
Whenever we face a new challenge at the rescue, we are so grateful to have such thoughtful supporters to turn to for help. Your continued passion and advocacy for wildlife motivates us in our mission. We hope the arrival of these cubs inspires you to help in any way that you can.
June 17, 2021
We need YOUR HELP to build a new structure needed to help rescue animals we have not been previously able to rehabilitate on site…BLACK BEARS! We are calling this facility the Apex Predator Enclosure, or APE.
Black Bear populations are returning and growing in our Sonoma County! However, the wonderful area that we share with bears has changed dramatically in the nearly two centuries since bear populations were decimated. The increase in wildfires is especially threatening to our bear population. Even if a bear was able to survive a wildfire, the resultant scarcity of food and the painful burns on its paws as it traverses the burnt landscape that used to be its territory makes survival questionable. This is especially true for cubs and young bears. Indeed, bear cubs commonly require rehabilitation due to disease, loss of habitat, fire injuries, or being orphaned.
Last year, on March 26, 2020, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue became one of only a few sites in all of California to receive approval to rehabilitate black bear cubs. We hope you are as excited as we are by the opportunity and honor we have been given by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Since receiving our permit, we have spent considerable effort and time planning for what will be required for bear cub care. Now we need you!
We are fortunate to have the 8.3 acre property that the County of Sonoma allows us to use for rehabilitation of native wildlife. We have already identified a secluded location on our grounds to situate the approximately 20,000 square foot APE facility. In the past, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has also transferred orphaned or injured mountain lions into our care. This APE facility will consist of a building with a medical area and small rehabilitation enclosures with den boxes; a large outside rehabilitation area – all to be enclosed with escape-proof perimeter fencing. This facility will have the capacity to care for mountain lions as well as bear cubs. It is a quiet, forested location with a breath-taking view and is ideal for healing and growing!
There are 3 specific areas of support needed for the Apex Predator Enclosure to become a reality:
1. Financial Donations
2. Construction Consultation
3. Natural Outside Enclosure Construction
A project as important and significant as creating a bear cub rehabilitation facility is complicated. Of course, we cannot include all details in this first plea for your assistance. We have a team of 12 wildlife professionals who have created our vision for the Apex Predator Enclosure. We are very serious and ambitious about the APE.
We are eager to meet with anyone who has a way to help. If you need more details about the project plans, legal documents of approval for bear rehabilitation from the state, budget line items, or management plans to oversee these efforts, then just let us know. Please join us and help build the capacity for Sonoma County Wildlife to provide healing care to bear cubs who will be in need in our local community.
If you would like to make a donation towards our APEX Predator Enclosure, please use the link below. If you would like to support this project in other ways or if you would like more information, please reach out to Executive Director, Doris Duncan, at firstname.lastname@example.org.