Next up on the agenda for filming our new series, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild, we made our way to Washington state to follow the rescue of two black bears. Read more about where we were and who we worked with.
About These Resilient Black Bear Cubs
As wildfires raged throughout the Pacific Northwest in July 2021, a wildfire in Washington state drove animals across the region out of their habitat. Among them were two black bear cubs rescued by the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, Washington. These cubs were badly burned, barely able to walk and suffered from second degree burns and respiratory issues from the smoke.
The bears were rehabilitated by the amazing team at PAWS and are now healthy and thriving. After a long winter in hibernation, spring finally afforded PAWS the chance to release the bears into the wild.
Conservation Dream Team
Our team was fortunate enough to visit the bears at the PAWS facility this past fall and were thrilled to be there again for their final checkup and release. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife handles the release of animals back into the wild, coordinating with PAWS to return these bear cubs to the wild. The team did a final exam of the bears and they were loaded into the release trap for transport. We ventured over the river and through the woods about five hours northeast of Seattle to release the bears.
Karelian bear dogs were used to encourage the bears to exit the transport vehicle and head deep into the woods. Don’t worry — they’re highly trained and there to keep both the bears and the release team safe. In this case, our bear cubs were ready to hit the woods and needed little encouragement to head out. They took off for the deep cover of the woods and kept going — hopefully finding a new home in the dense Washington woods!
Wildlife Experts On-Scene
We were joined by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Host Peter Gros as well as Wildlife Ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant. Dr. Wynn-Grant is a large carnivore ecologist with a background in conservation biology. She has studied bears all over the country, making her the perfect expert to accompany us on this adventure.
Black Bear Facts
We cannot wait to tell you all about black bears in our new series. Here are some of our favorite black bear facts:
- The American black bear is the most common bear native to North America. The word ‘black’ is actually a misnomer — these bears can be blue-black, cinnamon, brown or even white.
- Black bears are only found in North America. The species ranges from Canada down to Mexico, and lives predominantly in forests.
- American black bears are omnivores meaning most of their diet is plant based. American black bears mainly feed on vegetation including herbs, grasses, roots, buds, shoots, honey, nuts, fruit, berries and seeds.
- American black bears are solitary animals except for mothers with cubs, during the breeding season or when they come together at feeding sites.
- Black bears are excellent climbers and are often photographed scaling trees. Their claws give them great grip, and the branches offer youngsters safety from predators. Cubs can be very adventurous, climbing high into the treetops.
If you enjoyed this article, check out these behind the scenes looks into other Protecting the Wild episodes.