Wildlife Center of Virginia releasing five black bears back into the wild

One has already been released, but the other four may need a friendly push.
Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 5:59 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - The Wildlife Center of Virginia has been taking care of five bears for the past year, and they are almost ready to be released back into the wild.

One has already been released, but the other four may need a friendly push.

“Releasing bears is a little bit more tricky. It’s a little bit more complicated than some of the other species we might care for,” Alex Wehrung said.

The Wildlife Center says it has been planning the bear releases for months.

“The Department of Wildlife Resources are constantly monitoring black bear populations throughout the entire state,” Wehrung said.

The Department of Wildlife Resources utilizes a bear trap that the Wildlife Center also uses to move its guests from its care facility, back into the woods. At the end of the day, the trick is getting the bears to go inside the trap.

“One side has a sliding door, and we can put some enticing, tasty food items on the far side. The bear will wander in there to find that food item triggering the trapping mechanism and the sliding door shuts on the far end,” Wehrung said.

So far, only one of the bears has taken the bait, while the others remain wary of the contraption.

“As it stands, they are pretty wary of approaching these traps, which does make it more complicated,” Wehrung said.

Despite the added difficulties, Wehrung says this wariness is a good sign of where these bears are behaviorally.

“It’s a good sign that these bears behaviorally are in an appropriate spot. They’re cautious of humans, a little bit cautious to approach things when they don’t know quite what it is,” Wehrung said.

Wehrung says the WIldlife Center will try to transport the bears through this method for the next few weeks, but if that fails, it’ll start work on a new plan.

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