NEW SHARON — Puppy chow, replacement puppy milk and other supplements helped revive a skinny yearling black bear rescued earlier this month in Coplin Plantation and taken to a New Sharon wildlife rehabilitator.
The 16-month-old bear, which weighed 23 pounds when caught on May 11 by John Cochese, is now foraging on his own in a 3-acre pen at the nonprofit Second Chance Wildlife Inc. in New Sharon, rehabilitator Dawn Brown said Tuesday.
“He’s doing excellent now,” Brown said of the bear she dubbed “Coplin” because of where he was found. “It’s very healthy. All that was wrong with it was it just needed a little bit of a boost to get back on track.”
Since being placed in the 3-acre wooded pen on May 17, Coplin has improved enough to climb 50 to 60 feet up trees and has been swimming in the pond.
“He’s a happy bear now and he has great behavior,” Brown said. “He disappears the second he spots a person, so that’s what I want.”
For the first week, she fed it puppy chow; Esbilac, which is a food source for orphaned, nursing or rejected puppies that need supplemental feeding; and digestive enzymes such as Bene-Bac powder and Fast Balance G.I.
“He just needed help,” Brown said. “His body structure was kind of lanky and big, so he definitely seemed thin, and he was weak.”
Brown said she continues to feed it supplements, but less than when she first started, because Coplin is foraging on his own and behaving like a bear.
“This little bear, he’s pretty wild, which is good,” she said.
Coplin may have been turned out into the wild by mama bear to live on his own because of his age, Brown said.
“This spring and summer is when they would disperse, not at (age) 2, because they do not go into the winter den with the mother the following year again,” she said.
“But I don’t think it would have happened now, because she wouldn’t have been going into estrus until June or July, so I think he should have still been with her, and so I don’t know what the story is there.”
The mother bear could have been killed by a hunter last fall, leaving the yearling to fend for itself, or something else could have happened to separate the pair, Brown said.
Cochese found the yearling bear on his porch and inside his barn for a few days, Brown said. The man contacted Game Warden Reggie Hammond of Rangeley and told him the skinny bear seemed hungry.
Hammond alerted Brown, but before Hammond could try to catch the bear, Cochese caught it with a catch pole. The bear was taken to Farmington in a carrier, where Brown picked it up and took it home to Second Chance.
“It ended up working out well, but for him to even do that with a catch pole, that kind of tells me that the little bear was kind of famished,” Brown said.
She said she guessed Coplin is a yearling by the size of its feet and body structure. Cubs are born in January.
“It seemed very thin, and when we weighed it, it was 23 pounds,” Brown said. “For being a yearling at approximately 16 months old, that is pretty small, but they can be that. Most people would see it and say, ‘Oh, it’s a little cub!’”
She said she spoke to a bear biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and learned that yearlings can weigh 20 pounds while in the den.
“Sometimes they make it and sometimes they don’t,” she said. “It all depends on when they wake up.”
Coplin is expected to be released in mid to late June, “because he’s just doing so well and his instincts are so good,” Brown said.
She didn’t know whether state biologists would release him in the Coplin Plantation area or elsewhere.
To learn more about Second Chance Wildlife Inc., visit http://www.beartodream.org/.