LA GARITA - A bear cub, neighbors had spotted several times in the past week, was rescued Thursday, Sept. 3, by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DOW) at the home of Larry and Teresa Benns in La Garita after taking shelter under the deck of their garage apartment.
The bear had previously visited the Benns’ neighbors, Perry and Danae Alspaugh, eating fruit from an apricot tree in their backyard. The cub later was seen by other La Garita residents according to DOW officer Jeremy Gallegos.
“I’ve been chasing him for about a week,” Gallegos said over the phone Thursday, Sept. 3. “He only weighs about 20-30 pounds and we need to pick him up before something happens to him.”
Gallegos tranquilized the cub and transported it to the nearby Frisco Creek wildlife rescue shelter in Del Norte. He later determined the bear was a female and said that depending on how quickly the cub puts on weight, she could be released late this fall. The cub currently weighs 29 pounds, he commented.
If she still needs to fatten up, the shelter will “false den her,” creating a mock bear den for her to winter in. Then in the spring she will be released back into the wild. “By then she should have learned the majority of what she needs to know to survive,” he explained.
The shelter is careful to deliver the animals their food, he said, without them ever realizing it comes from a person, to make sure they do not become dependent on humans.
Gallegos said there have been 10 cubs rescued in the Valley this summer, which testifies to the tough conditions animals in the wild face this year.
If wildlife is spotted that needs help, Gallegos asks Valley residents to call the Monte Vista Parks and Wildlife Office at 719-587-6900 or Colorado State Patrol dispatch at 589-5807.