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Malnourished Aspen bear recovering

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy Lindsay SmithA malnourished black bear found nearly two weeks ago on the back of Aspen Mountain is gaining strength and weight at a wildlife rehabilitation center near Silt.
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SILT, Colo. – The tiny, malnourished bear rescued off the back of Aspen Mountain nearly two weeks ago is back at a wildlife rehabilitation center near Silt, where it’s dining on a mixture of applesauce and rice, yogurt, berries and melons.

The yearling, a female, has gained 5 pounds during the past week in captivity, according to her caregivers.

The animal was released from care at a Fruita veterinary hospital on Saturday and returned to the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation’s rehabilitation center, where it is now recovering in a large, protected outdoor pen. She was moved to the outdoor pen on Tuesday afternoon.



The bear is making itself comfortable in a “den” within the pen – a large, plastic animal carrier outfitted with a heating pad and flannel blanket.

A woman found the bear near Midnight Mine Road on the mountain on March 1 and brought it to the Aspen Animal Shelter. From there, it was taken to the wildlife center and then to Arrowhead Veterinary Services in Fruita for treatment of a gastrointestinal issue.



The bear, judged to be a year old, weighed just 13 pounds when it was found. It was likely underweight when it began hibernating last fall; it should have emerged in the spring weighing 30-plus pounds, according to the wildlife rehabilitation center’s founder, Nanci Limbach, who described the animal as “at death’s door” when it arrived at the center the first time.

The bear is now off all medications, but remains weak and underweight, Limbach said.

“She’s doing better. She’s fairly wobbly – she’s still trying to find her hind legs,” Limbach added.



The bear has no contact with humans at the center, except those tasked with keeping it fed.

“She’s 18 pounds now, so just within a week’s time, she’s gained five pounds,” said Limbach, who hopes to see the bear putting on 7 to 10 pounds a week as it gets stronger. Ideally, the bear will weigh 50 to 60 pounds by the time she’s released – probably in June.

“I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to get her to that weight by June,” Limbach said.

Four other bears that are the same age, but spent the winter awake at the center because they hadn’t gained enough weight to hibernate, now weigh between 70 and 110 pounds. Those yearlings, too, will be released in June.

The center handles orphaned and injured wildlife of all types with the goal of returning the animals to the wild.

Go to http://www.schneegaswildlifefoundation.org/ for more on the wildlife foundation and rehabilitation center.

janet@aspentimes.com


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