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Rescued Aspen bear fat, healthy

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Vail, CO Colorado

SILT, Colo. – The tiny yearling bear rescued off the back of Aspen Mountain in March is now fat, healthy and ready for a bigger cage at a wildlife rehabilitation center near Silt.

The “Midnight Mine” bear, as the center staff is now calling her, was plucked from near Midnight Mine Road on March 1 by a woman who brought it to the Aspen Animal Shelter. It was transferred to the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation’s rehabilitation center, and spent some time in a veterinary hospital.

Though it was a year old, the bear weighed just 13 pounds when it was found, and it was ill.



Now, says wildlife center founder Nanci Limbach, “she’s huge.”

“I’ll bet she weighs at least 40 pounds,” Limbach said. “She eats, poops and sleeps. That’s about it.”



The bear has had minimal contact with humans, but Limbach said she may try to weigh the animal when she’s moved to a larger enclosure next week.

The bear is likely to be released in July, possibly near Steamboat Springs, Limbach said.

Since the Aspen area typically has problems with bears, it’s unlikely wildlife officials would want the Midnight Mine bear released in the Aspen vicinity, Limbach explained.



“Since we don’t know the story on that bear, we wouldn’t take her back there anyway,” she added.

Along with an assortment of other baby animals that have been rescued this spring, the center is housing an 8-pound bear cub picked up in Glenwood Springs, a 5-pound cub from Montrose and two bears that were brought to the center last fall but didn’t weigh enough to hibernate. They’re now at a satellite facility in the woods, awaiting release, Limbach said.

Attempts to transplant bears back into the woods have been thwarted so far by muddy backcountry conditions.

The wildlife center relies on contributions to fund its operations and seeks funding from Aspen and other jurisdictions that send it bears. Go to http://www.schneegaswildlifefoundation.orgfor more on the wildlife foundation and rehabilitation center.


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