New Jersey Bear Cubs, Orphaned When A Hunter Shot Their Mom, On The Road To Recovery

A wildlife refuge in New Jersey is helping two orphaned bear cubs get nurtured back to health after a hunter shot and killed their mother, the Newark Star-Ledger is reporting.

The cubs, both males weighing less than a pound, appear to be in good health, likely because their mother was only dead for a short time before they arrived at the refuge. However, veterinarians still consider them to be at a critical stage in their recovery, according to Tracy Leaver, Executive Director at Woodlands Wildlife Refuge.

After two days on Pedialyte to get them properly hydrated, vets started bottle-feeding the cubs a formula designed to resemble a mother bear's milk. They'll be cared for at the refuge until March, when they'll likely be reintroduced into the wild. Leaver is confident that another mother bear will foster the cubs at that point, something she says has happened before with orphaned bear cubs.

"We're really looking forward to getting them right back out as soon as we can, with, you know, someone who can give them the ultimate care. We think we're really good, but mom bears out there can do a better job than us."

The hunter who shot the cubs' mother has been identified as Walter Michalski, according to the New Jersey Herald. Michalski was legally deer hunting in New Jersey's Allamuchy State Park on January 13 when he stepped over a downed log and onto the mother bear. The bear bit into his boot, puncturing his foot, and refused to let go, giving him no choice but to shoot the animal in self-defense. He was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

For a full gallery (36 photos) of the orphaned New Jersey bear cubs and their human friends who are caring for them, click here.

[Image courtesy of: Newark Star-Ledger]