OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WYFF) — Three black bear siblings discovered in February in Oconee County in a box on the side of the road were released back into the South Carolina mountains after spending the past eight months at a Tennessee bear rescue facility.
"This was absolutely the best outcome for these bears, for them to come back to South Carolina and be released into the wild," said Richard Morton, black bear biologist for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. "Our best hope is never to hear from them again."
The sibling bear cubs came to Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend, Tenn., in March as 2.5-pound infant-orphans. By the time they were released back into South Carolina, they'd added about 100 pounds of weight, with a minimum of dependency on humans. The bears were released in a remote area of western South Carolina.
The cubs were found in February by a volunteer fireman in South Carolina's Oconee County in a box on the side of the road and were later transferred to the Tennessee bear rescue. In the ensuing months, the three bears were first fed by bottle, and then lived in an enclosure with natural, woodland features and almost no human contact.
Last week, South Carolina DNR personnel arrived at the bear rescue, and the bears were sedated. Their ears were tagged for future identification, if necessary. They were weighed and then loaded into a vehicle for transportation to the South Carolina mountains. The two male bears weighed 105 and 114 pounds, and the female weighed 90 pounds.
Mobile users, see YouTube video of the bears' release here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTMPjgr7nXw