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Captured bear cub awaits her fate

State veterinarians could know as early as today whether a small and likely orphaned black bear cub captured Tuesday after it fell out of a Phoenix-area tree is a candidate for rehabilitation and eventual release.

Blood and urine samples collected late Wednesday and sent to the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Corvallis for a full biochemical workup will tell veterinarians whether they should pursue placing it in a rehab facility or euthanize it, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.

The cub, positively identified Wednesday as female, weighed only 13.2 pounds and appeared to have a moderate skin infection often associated with poor nutrition, according to wildlife officials.

ODFW District Veterinarian Julia Burco said there is a "likely possibility" that the cub has been orphaned, and possibly for some time.

"If it's that scrawny, mom's usually not around" to teach it foraging skills, Burco said.

The cub was found upside down in blackberries beneath a tree in an area north of Phoenix, where the bear was spotted in several trees Monday, according to ODFW.

The bear was placed in a cage and trucked Wednesday from ODFW's White City offices to the lab in Corvallis, where the samples were taken. It has since been moved to a holding facility at ODFW's E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area outside of Corvallis.

One thing the cub doesn't have on its side is history.

A small, cinnamon-colored cub caught running amok in the Rite Aid store in Ashland in late October did find a temporary home at a Lynnwood, Wash., state rehab facility, where it was set to remain until it could be released into the wild next spring. But it was later euthanized after it developed kidney failure, said Mark Vargas, ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist.

One thing the female cub does have going for it, however, is that it's no teddy.

"It seems to be feisty," Vargas says."But will it survive? The vets will make that call."

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.