CARIBOU, Maine — A bear cub in Caribou is adapting well to his new family after his birth mother was hit and killed by a car last April.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sent out a release with the good news Thursday that the orphaned cub has been accepted by his new mother and sister. 

Almost a year ago, the cub's birth mother was hit by a car on Route 1 in Caribou when the two bears were out looking for food. Warden Alan Dudley responded to the scene of the accident and could hear the cub calling in distress. Dudley found the cub a few feet away, too inexperienced to climb up a tree, and brought him home in a small dog kennel.

Orphaned bear cub rescued
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

The department's bear research team tracks over 80 female bears with collars in three study areas around the state to help manage Maine's black bear population. The team knew of two possible homes for the cub, since sows who already have a cub will accept another one if it's placed in her den.

When biologists Randy Cross and Amanda DeMusz took the cub into the woods to find his new cave, the first den option was empty, but the second den had an 11-year-old sow with one cub. After more than 20 years of tracking and studying female bears in Maine, the team was confident with their decision, since this mother was experienced. 

Bear cub orphan left for new family
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

This year, the team has started checking on dens again and reported Thursday, Feb. 21, that the adopted cub (now a yearling) is alive and well with its new family.

During their visit, the team fitted the sister with a tracking collar to be added to the research project. Only female bears get tracking collars, so the orphaned male was given new ear tags.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said the family is now safe back in their den. The yearlings will both leave their mother sometime this spring to start their own lives.