Orphaned Alaskan Bear Cubs Filling Zoos

Lisa Hupp/USFWS

Interesting piece in the San Francisco Chronicle  reflects upon a surplus of orphaned Alaskan bear cubs and the state’s controversial hunting regulations for targeting bruins. 

Here’s Chronicle reporter Filipa Ioannou with more:

Two of the newest residents at the San Francisco Zoo are part of a glut of orphaned bear cubs found malnourished in the Alaskan wild in a trend that coincides with a repeal of regulations restricting the hunting of bears that was approved by President Trump.

The two black bear cubs — one a male found in May in a wildlife refuge near Valdez, Alaska, the other a female rescued in June in a refuge near Juneau — are part of a wave of Alaskan baby bears placed in zoos throughout the lower 48.

 Both cubs at the San Francisco Zoo were emaciated when they were found, weighing less than 20 pounds, officials said.

“It’s definitely not normal,” said Patrick Lampi, executive director of the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. “I’ve worked for the Alaska Zoo for 31 years, and we’ve never had this many bear cubs — the most in the past it was maybe five or six, and this year it was 11.”

The increase is dramatic, especially compared with last year, according to Lampi.

“Last year we had zero cubs — we thought we were doing a pretty good job this year,” he said.

The influx of orphaned bear cubs comes as problematic bear-human interactions appear to be increasing in the state, and at the same time as short-lived Obama-era regulations restricting the use of bear traps and aggressive hunting practices to protect predator populations on federal land have been repealed under a Republican-controlled Congress.

The rest of the piece is worth a read.