Four bear cubs found orphaned last year in central and northern California were released back into the wild this month, the San Diego Humane Society said.
The cubs, three sisters and a lone male, were all about 7 months old when found. They were placed in the care of the Ramona Wildlife Center, northeast of San Diego.
“It is always our goal to return a wild animal to their natural habitat and to see that these four bears get a second chance where they belong is extremely rewarding,” Andy Blue, campus director for the wildlife center, said in a release.
The male was found in August in Plumas County during the Dixie fire. The cub reportedly approached firefighters in the area and was found with burned paws, the humane society said.
The three females were found in September in a residential garage in Mariposa County, east of Modesto. A bear that was presumed to be their mother was found dead nearby.
At the time they were found, the cubs were close to weaning age but still would have been with their mothers.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife transported the cubs to the Ramona Wildlife Center, where they spent the next seven months learning to hunt and forage.
Blue said all of the cubs were put in an enclosure together, which allowed them to develop strength and survival skills through play.
The wildlife center attempted to minimize human contact with the bears during their stay. Food, about 10 pounds per day per bear, was often buried or hidden to encourage foraging, and feeding locations were changed frequently.
Before they were released back into the wild this month, the bears were outfitted with tracking collars.
The cubs were released within 10 miles of where they were found, officials said.
Video from the Department of Fish and Wildlife shows the three sisters scampering from the back of a truck up a nearby tree and eventually into the thick brush.