Injured bear cub rescued by hunters

Posted: Thursday, November 09, 2000

KOTZEBUE (AP) -- A grizzly bear cub rescued by three Kotzebue-area hunters is recovering from injuries sustained in the wild.

Brothers Terry and Jerry McCall and friend Paul Pansch were out hunting last week between Hugo Mountain and the first portage when they came upon some tracks in the snow.

They thought they were trailing a wolverine, but then came upon the injured 10-month-old bear cub. The young female grizzly was walking very slowly through a willow patch when it was found, and had apparently been in a tangle with a porcupine some time ago, judging from the infected quill injuries.

The hunters had a cabin not far from the bear, and went back on their snowmachines to retrieve a lead and a dog kennel. They got the lead around the bear's neck and put her in the kennel. The cub's mother was nowhere to be found and judging from her size, she had been left to her own devices for some time.

''For as much noise as it was making,'' said Terry McCall, ''if the mother was around it would have known about it.''

The trio brought the cub, who they named Hugo, to the state Department of Fish and Game office in Kotzebue, where it was examined. The bear was kept below the Fish and Game offices and fed moose meat that had a little freezer burn.

Fish and Game biologist Jim Dau pulled more than 140 quills from the bear's paws, belly and face.

''If these guys didn't bring it in, this would be a dead bear,'' Dau told the Arctic Sounder.

The cub weighed about 45 pounds when she was brought in. Dau said that bears her age usually weigh between 70 to 100 pounds.

Mike Miller, owner of Big Game Alaska Wildlife Center in Portage, said he would take the young bear until a permanent home could be found for her. The bear was shipped free of charge by Alaska Airlines and is adjusting well to her new home.

''She's taming down really well,'' Miller said.

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