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Rite Aid cub well, could come back to southern Oregon

A bear cub that wandered into the Ashland Rite Aid on Sunday is doing well and may be released into the wild in the spring, wildlife rehabilitators say.

“So far, so good,” Jennifer Convy, wildlife director for PAWS, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society of Lynnwood, Wash., said Thursday. “She’s currently behaving normally. We’re hopeful for recovery, but haven’t gotten blood test results yet. She’s stable.”

The cub, captured by Ashland police under an overturned shopping basket after a brief chase through the pharmacy, was turned over to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and taken to its Wildlife Health Lab near Corvallis on Monday morning. It underwent an examination there by state veterinarians, and then by PAWS veterinarians after they took custody of the cub Tuesday.

They described the cub’s health as “guarded to good.” It weighed in at 13 pounds, described as “a little thin” by Fish and Wildlife in a media release. It’s not known if she was born later than the usual January or had her growth stunted for some reason.

Whereabouts of her mother are unknown. A sow had been seen in the neighborhood the week before, but there’s no way of knowing if that was her.

The PAWS Wildlife Center is one of the top bear rehabilitation facilities in the country, state wildlife officials said, and a place where animals can be cared for in conditions that mimic those in the wild.

“Bears are given diets filled with natural foods they would normally forage for in the wild,” Convy said. “(PAWS) treats bear cubs with a hands-off method with no human interaction so rehabilitated bears maintain their natural fear of humans and don’t become habituated to people.”

When spring comes, plans are for the bear ¬— which was only give a number, not a name, in keeping with PAWS policy — to be released back into the wild in southern Oregon, to rejoin the state’s population of 25,000 to 30,000 black bears.

 Reach Daily Tidings editor Bert Etling at betling@dailytidings.com or 541-631-1313. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/betling.

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PAWS veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee examines a bear cub taken from Ashland to Lynnwood, Wash., for rehabilitation. Photo courtesy of PAWS Wildlife Center
A bear cub that wandered into the Ashland Rite Aid is sedated for examination by PAWS Wildlife staff. Photo courtesy of PAWS Wildlife Center.