Rescued bear cubs find surrogate mom

Two of three black bear cubs waiting to be placed with surrogate female black bear.

Three rescued bear cubs, orphaned after their mom was hit and killed by car, are being taken care of by a surrogate sow.

The Department of Natural Resources was called to rescue the bear cubs off of U.S. 10 near Reed City Sunday. The cubs' mom, a 125-pound black bear was hit and killed by a car late Saturday night.

DNR officials and an area fire department tried to coax the cubs from the tree, but the nearby traffic made it difficult. The group called on two local tree service professionals to come to the rescue. Malcolm Vandentoorn with Alpine Tree Service and Ronnie Kailing, with Trees Inc. successfully got the four-pound cubs down.

Katie Keen, Wildlife Technician with the Department of Natural Resources, said they used a 'tried and true' method to find a new home for the three orphaned cubs.


e were able to locate one of our surrogate sows, because it has a GPS collar on it," explained Keen. "We knew she had young this year and was still nursing. We were able to place these three cubs with this sow."

The method used involves tracking down the sow, getting her to send her own cubs up a tree and then sending the orphans to the same location.

"A sows instinct is to tree her cubs. They run up a tree and that's their survival," said Keen. "We were able to go in and she treed her existing two cubs, then we send up three new ones covered in Vicks vapor rub so she can't smell them. When we walk away, the sow comes back. When she gets her cubs to come down, she licks the new ones clean and they take on her scent."

The DNR has several surrogate sows with GPS collars to assist with cub adoptions.