The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), responsible for the highly significant rehabilitation-and-release operation of three critically endangered Amur tigers in Russia last year, have done it again! They have just successfully reintroduced four orphaned brown bear cubs named Misha, Pueschel, Masha and Tisha to the wild in two Russian regions.
Misha and Tisha were released in the Kologriv Forest Nature Reserve in the Kostroma region while Pueschel and Masha were set free in Penovskyi region of the Tver District. These bears were part of a group of sixteen orphaned cubs brought to IFAW’s Orphan Bear Rescue Center (OBRC) earlier this year. This latest release means that eleven of the group have now been returned to the wild! In the next few weeks, three more cubs will be freed.
The Kolgriv Nature Reserve staff, some of whom are shown in this picture alongside IFAW workers, will monitor the progress of Misha and Tisha by means of a radio collar worn by Misha.
This is the moment that Misha and Tisha stepped out of their boxes and into their new home!
Pueschel was released nearby a field of unharvested oat crops: a favorite food source for bears.
The story of how Pueschel came to be at the OBRC is an intriguing one. He arrived at the Center in April 2015, after animal activists from the city of Perm alerted staff to his plight. He had been found without his mother and brought to an animal shelter, but was struggling to cope in this artificial environment, and had begun to tear the floor and walls with his large sharp nails. Dr. Maria Vorontsova, IFAW’s Regional Director for Russia, said, “We were concerned that the bear would be too habituated to people as he spent some time in artificial conditions, but surprisingly he was still quite wild and a good candidate for successful rehabilitation. He got his name Pueschel to commemorate our beloved IFAW director of international agreements Peter Pueschel, who passed away suddenly this summer.”
Masha was released in the same area as Pueschel.
As a “present for the first several days” to help ease them into their new-found freedom, IFAW rehabilitators have left out a hundred kilograms of apples for the bears. The successful release of these cubs is a wonderful sign of just how important IFAW’s work has proven to be in Russia. Let’s hope that Misha, Tisha, Pueschel and Masha enjoy their new lives of freedom!
All image source: International Fund for Animal Welfare