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Bear Cub Rehabilitation

Have you found a bear cub that may be orphaned?

Do not approach it or attempt to pick it up. Contact the FWC for staff to evaluate.

Contact FWC

If you find a cub that may be orphaned, do not approach it or attempt to pick it up. Adult females will often stash their cubs in bushes or up a tree while they are looking for food and will return for them later. It can also be dangerous to approach a bear cub, as the adult female may be nearby and could become defensive. If you think there is an orphaned cub, call the FWC and staff will evaluate the situation. If it is an orphan cub that cannot survive on its own, we will attempt to capture it for rehabilitation.

When the FWC receives a report of an orphaned black bear cub (or encounters one themselves), staff investigates the situation to determine if the bear cub is truly an orphan and if so, if it should be placed in a rehabilitation facility for later release into the wild. One of the most common reasons a bear cub is orphaned is due to the death of an adult female by a vehicle collision.

Rehab cub in tree

Orphaned 9 lb female bear cub in a tree in Longwood, Florida, caught and rehabilitated at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Partnering for Success

Taking bears into captivity and successfully rehabilitating them for release back into the wild is a challenge. Providing veterinary services, food, and care to growing bear cubs for several months requires a lot of financial and human resources. Additionally, caregivers must take extra precautions to avoid allowing the cubs to become accustomed to people and thus posing a risk to public safety if released. The FWC only allows a few captive wildlife facilities with experience and a successful track record to rehabilitate bears for release in Florida. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (HSWSP) has been our primary bear rehabilitation facility since 2009. HSWSP cares for the cubs away from where the public can see them at no cost, and the FWC pays for food for the cubs. Zoo Tampa and Brevard Zoo offer their veterinarian services to evaluate the bears and address any health concerns free of charge.

Rehab transfer

FWC staff transferring a rehabilitated cub into a trap at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park for release back into the wild.

Rehab release out of trap

Rehabilitated bear cub being released back into the wild.

Since 2009, the partnership between FWC, HSWSP and the zoos successfully release an average of 6 cubs and yearlings back into the wild every year. The FWC releases the young bears on public conservation areas with high quality bear habitat and low density of bears and people to give them the best chances for survival.