Three tiny bear cubs are resting peacefully in new dens after their original winter home was disturbed by a logging operation on Thursday, and their startled mother fled.
Maine game warden Paul Farrington responded to the scene in Woodville, which is just south of Medway, after the timber contractor tracked him down to report the incident. The den, which was an open pit called a “ground nest,” was not disturbed, but a piece of machinery passed by close enough to startle the mother bear.
That left three cubs huddled together until Farrington arrived to help them out.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting that type of den,” Farrington said. “They told me [it was] a hole in the ground, and I was thinking of a typical bear den, with two cubs in it.”
Instead, there were three cubs that weighed about three pounds apiece, according to Randy Cross, a biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Cross leads the state’s bear den crew, and he and his crew also headed toward Woodville to pitch in. The bears were likely just a few weeks old, he said.
Farrington found three cubs in the ground nest, and two of them weren’t moving. Without their mother present to provide warmth, they were in danger of succumbing to the elements, Cross said.
“I called Randy to verify that he wanted us to take them,” Farrington said. “Then I took two and my girlfriend [Melissa Elkins] took one, and we put them right in our jackets and walked them out. We took them back to her place, where we put them in a large metal kennel on top of an electric blanket and just slowly warmed them up that way, and holding them close for body heat.”
Cross said the cubs wouldn’t have survived for long on the frigid day, when temperatures hovered in the single digits.