There is much discussion about whether rehabilitated bears are likely to become problem bears. Therefore, data collected in this project is of paramount importance to this discussion. Of course we would prefer to be able to release orphaned bears in the wild again, rather than putting them in captivity for the rest of their lives. However, we must be absolutely certain that the rehabilitation process has no negative impact whatsoever on their natural behaviour.
Between 2008 and 2013 a total of 19 bears have been equipped with GPS/GSM transmitters in order to assess the suitability of rehabilitated bears for reintroduction in the natural habitats. Ten of these bears were reared in the Romanian Rehabilitation Center and nine were wild caught individuals of two behavior categories: (1) wild behaving juveniles and (2) individuals with different degrees of habituation to anthropogenic food sources. The project revealed and proved that reintroduction of the rehabilitated bears into the wild is successful and without any threatening impact on the wild population. The survival rate of the rehabilitated tracked bears was around 50% (it is 55% considering all the rehabilitated bears). This is according with the survival rate of juvenile bears in the literature. One of the most important regulating factors can be considered the infanticide killing by adult male bears. An important threat is poaching.
Monitoring the bears and collar results is still ongoing.
One of the basics of the rehabilitation technique is keeping the cubs in a system of several enclosures that offer 100% natural habitat. Here the bears can develop their inborn instincts during a 1,5 – 2 years of rehab period. The facilities are surrounded by electrical fences. The electrical fence on one hand keeps the bears inside the facilities and keeps intruder adult male bears or other predators out. The main aim of the current support offered by Bears in Mind will be directed towards improvement of the total electrical system of the Rehab Centre in order to keep the cubs safe, improve data communication and decrease the risk of depredation by males from outside.