Tough start to winter for bear cub

EAST MIDDLEBURY — A wayward black bear cub was perched on a tree just off of Route 125 between East Middlebury and Ripton for two days last week.
“It drew a lot of attention,” said Dick Collitt of the Ripton Country Store. “People were stopping. It was a circus down there for a couple of days.”
Collitt heard reports in the store that a car had wounded the cub’s mother in the early hours of last Tuesday morning. The mother bear was reportedly sitting in the middle of the road about a mile from the Ripton Country Store, unable to move very well.
The mother bear has not been located and is presumed to be dead, according to Collitt.
Warden Robert Sterling, of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, said that the cause of the mother’s wounds was unknown.
“It is also bear hunting season, so it’s possible that someone was hunting legally,” said Sterling, who checked the department’s computer system for a potential cause of the disappearance of the cub’s mother, to no avail.
Sterling had also heard reports that a wounded bear had been on the road, but said his department could not confirm that.
Vermont Field Sports in Middlebury, a big game reporting station, had not received any reports of female bears last week; as of Friday its most recent bear brought in was a male on Sunday, Oct. 21.
Back in East Middlebury, game wardens tried a number of scare tactics to bring the cub down from the tree and back into the woods, but were unsuccessful — the cub initially would not come down from the tree.
When the wardens returned on Thursday, the cub had left of its own accord.
“That’s a good thing,” said Sterling, noting that once bears get back to the woods and away from people, they are likely to be able to fend for themselves.
And what are the young cub’s chances of surviving the winter without its mother?
“Probably pretty good,” Sterling said.
He explained that the bear cub likely weighed around 80 pounds, which indicated to him that it had been born last year.
“It’s got basic knowledge. But,” he said, “I know it will come down to what kind of winter we have.”

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