- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Two grizzly bear cubs whose mother was euthanized after raiding eastern Idaho apple orchards have been released west of Yellowstone National Park.

Biologists captured the two male yearlings near Chester on Thursday and determined they were healthy enough to be released, returning them to the wild on Friday.

“Hopefully, they are far enough away from trouble that they find a path forward without trouble,” Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor Steve Schmidt told the Post Register (https://bit.ly/1MrVCmY).

He said the 13-year-old mother bear, captured at the same time as her cubs, was euthanized after raiding apple trees in the Chester area. Officials determined the adult bear had become habituated to human-related food.

“Generally once a bear learns a behavior, it sticks with it,” said Gregg Losinski, spokesman for Fish and Game. “The potential for running into a similar problem is always there.”

The bears had been previously captured near Cody, Wyoming, and released in the Jedidiah Smith Wilderness in that state on Sept. 21.

But officials say the bears immediately moved to lower elevations outside Ashton and Chester in Idaho where they repeatedly sought out apple trees in rural areas.

“The decision to euthanize the sow was not made lightly but underlies the ongoing challenge of managing a population that has exceeded all recovery goals set under the Endangered Species Act,” Idaho Fish and Game officials said in a statement.

Grizzly bears learn quickly, and Thursday was the second time the cubs had been in an apple orchard. Schmidt said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department wasn’t able to find a zoo willing to take the bears, so state officials decided to give them a chance at life in the wild.

“Our decision is to give them a shot,” Schmidt said. “If they get into trouble in the future, we will deal with it then.”

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Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com

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