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Bear cubs draw visitors to WV State Wildlife Center

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Marcus Constantino A black bear cub reaches for a photographer’s camera at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center on Thursday.
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Marcus Constantino
A black bear cub reaches for a photographer’s camera at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center on Thursday.

FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. — Cougars, elk, bison and wolves are just a few of the rarely seen native species that draw around 40,000 visitors annually to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in Upshur County.

But this year, a pair of rambunctious black bear cubs have stolen the hearts of guests and park employees alike.

The two male bears, estimated to be around 6 and 7 months old, were brought to the facility by state Division of Natural Resources wildlife biologists in early May. They run around their cage, playfully fighting with each other and looking curiously at visitors.

Judy Channell, secretary for the Wildlife Center, said the park hasn’t had black bear cubs in about two decades, when the park’s two adult bears were brought in as cubs.

“These cubs have been the highlight of the summer,” Channell said. “Everybody’s coming to see the cubs. They are so much fun to watch.”

“They’re growing quickly,” she added, “but they’re so playful and they really put on a show.”

The cubs stand less than three feet tall and are small enough to use their claws to climb the links of their metal enclosure. Once they’re fully grown, they could be four to six feet long and could weigh more than 250 pounds…

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