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Emaciated bear cub found wandering Alberta town released back into wild

The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) has released a bear cub found wandering Westlock, Alta., on Oct. 31, 2023. (AIWC) The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) has released a bear cub found wandering Westlock, Alta., on Oct. 31, 2023. (AIWC)
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A southern Alberta wildlife clinic has released a bear back into the wild after the animal was found wandering through the town of Westlock last Halloween.

The emaciated black bear cub was captured on Oct. 31, 2023, and transported to the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) by fish and wildlife officers.

"At just 13 kilograms, he was severely underweight for his age, and would not have survived an attempted winter sleep," AIWC said in a Tuesday news release.

Officials say the bear’s condition improved over the next several months, and he even managed a shortened hibernation period from January to March.

In total, the bear stayed at the conservation centre, located near the hamlet of Madden, for 230 days.

Then, after passing his pre-release health exam – where the bear weighed in at 60.7 kilograms --- officials made the decision to release him last week.

The AIWC still has two black bear cubs in its care.

Officials say they are set to be moved to a brand new state-of-the-art bear enclosure called the Bear Den.

"This space is a safer and smoother care environment for bears and staff, and includes multiple sections connected by chutes and sliding doors. This allows staff to provide much of a bear’s care without laying hands on a cub," explained a news release.

The remaining two cubs will be looked after until they're ready to be released in October.

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