What happens after a bear wanders into a drugstore?
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A black bear cub found wandering the aisles of a drugstore will be raised with the goal of releasing her into the wild next year.
Police scooped the cub into a shopping basket Sunday at a Rite-Aid store in Ashland. Shoppers took video on their smartphones.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said the bear has been taken to the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, Washington. Director Jennifer Convy says rehabilitation staff care for bears with hands-off methods designed to mimic conditions in the wild. These conditions maintain an animal's fear of people.
The department says it hopes to release the bear somewhere in southern Oregon next spring.
According to KGW-TV, veterinarians estimate the cub, which weighs 13 pounds, to be only about a couple of months old. Biologists don't know what happened to her mother. The local bear population is healthy, so bear sightings are common in the area, but no recent sow deaths have been reported, according to ODFW.
Initially, authorities said it would not be possible to return the cub to the wild, because of her contact with humans. The veterinarians at PAWS feel she has a chance with the right kind of rehabilitation.
"Bears are given diets filled with natural foods they would normally forage for in the wild," said Jennifer Convy, PAWS wildlife director. "Rehabilitated bears maintain their natural fear of humans and don't become habituated to people."
Critical thinking challenge: Why should bears be afraid of people? If bears are afraid of people, are they less likely to wander into drugstores?