Brown bears in Russia are under threat. Found mostly in forests and mountain woodlands, brown bears require huge amounts of wilderness in order to survive. Due to habitat loss and hunting, their numbers have plummeted, and now survival for the brown bear is getting harder.
Logging, which includes the cutting, skidding, and loading of trees onto transport trucks, is one of the biggest culprits responsible for wiping out the habitat of brown bears, making it extremely difficult for them to forage for food or communicate with one another as they typically rub and scratch trees to mark their territory. Ultimately, the loss of trees equals the loss of brown bears. The plight of brown bears is especially troubling for baby cubs, who are often orphaned when a mother bear is hunted or unable to provide for her cubs. Luckily, there are incredible organizations, like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which is working throughout the frigid winters to help these baby bears grow and return to the wild.
Brown Bears are Disappearing
Every year, baby bears are abandoned or orphaned in Russia during the winter and spring due to hunting and logging activities. Most of the bears the IFAW rescues are newborns, barely able to open their eyes and tiny enough to fit in your hand. Once again, mankind is to blame: between bear hunting and logging, safe wild places for bears are vanishing.
For years, trophy hunters in Russia have been paying over $2,000 to participate in a “winter den hunt” of brown bears. Hunters would bring along dogs to rouse bears from hibernation and then shoot them as they came out of their dens. If the bear was female, she likely wouldn’t be the only victim - her newborn cubs would be left behind to either freeze or starve to death. Others could be stolen and sold to mobile zoos and circuses or given to local villagers as pets. IFAW’s tireless campaigning helped lead to Russia’s passed of the new “Rules of the Hunt” legislation, which has helped cut down on the slaughter of brown bears, but has not been able to eliminate the practice.
Nestor, the Orphan Bear
Nestor, an orphan bear, and his three siblings were only a few days old when they lost their mother. Unable to see and hard of hearing, as young cubs are often born blind and mostly deaf, they were completely dependent on her
. Due to logging activity, she was frightened away from their den, leaving behind four babies, hungry, thirsty and exposed to the harsh Russian winter. Without their mother, they would not survive and would either die from starvation or from the arctic conditions.
Fortunately, the cubs were rescued by the IFAW and taken to their Bear Rescue Center in Russia. Now, they are happy, healthy and getting all the care they need until the day comes that they can be released back into the wild. IFAW usually releases the bears in pairs, based on the character and behavior of the cubs and their friendships with one another.
Nestor is Released Into the Forest With his Friend, Nafanya.
Caring For Baby Brown Bears
When discovered, orphan bears like Nestor are first taken to the IFAW’s rehabilitation center in Russia, where they are bottle-fed with a nourishing formula and provided with any medicine or vitamins they may need. Most of the bears who are taken to the rescue center are desperately afraid and missing their mothers.
Therefore, the rescue center provides them with warming pads to sleep on, to stimulate their mothers’ warmth. When they grow up, they are released into a spacious, natural enclosure, so they are able to safely learn about the forest and develop survival skills. When the bears are old enough and ready, they are released back into the wild, close to where they were found.
This year, the IFAW’s bear rescue center has saved 16 bears, including Nestor and his siblings. They were carefully raised and released into the forests, only a few weeks ago, ready to tackle the wilderness.
However, winter is just beginning which means pregnant mother bears will soon be in their winter dens, preparing to give birth
. The Bear Rescue Center will again be busy rescuing, feeding and caring for orphaned baby bears.
Watch the IFAW Orphan Bear Rescue Project in action below.
Help Save Baby Bears This Winter!
In order to keep up their work, the IFAW needs your help! With your donation, the IFAW Bear Rescue Center in Russia can feed, provide medication, and warmth to baby bears. While they’ve already saved and released hundreds of bears over the years, none of this would be possible without your help. You can assist in this life-saving work by sending a donation to the rescue center today to help save more baby bears in Russia this winter!
Your money won’t just be going toward helping bear cubs, but to preserve the brown bear population, as the IFAW return many of their rescued bears back into the wild.
All image source: IFAW