Murchison, TEXAS—A 6½ year old mama bear named Jackie and her 1½ year old cub Russell are now safe and in their forever home at the 1,400-acre Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas. 

The duo recently arrived from southern California where they were rescued in 2019 by the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center—now called Project Wildlife Ramona. The mom and cub were becoming too comfortable near humans in a suburban California community and it was not safe for the bears or the public. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife relocated them 70 miles away, to the outside edge of their territory. After they returned and CDFW attempted two more relocations, the bears would have faced a dire outcome if the wildlife center did not take them in until a permanent sanctuary could be found. 

Noelle Almrud, director of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, said, “Jackie and Russell can now safely live out their days here with no human interference. They are thriving—exploring their one-acre habitat, climbing trees, splashing in their pool and foraging in the leaves and grass. The duo already has their favorite trees—the huge oaks with plenty of branches for exploring. They can see and hear the other sanctuary resident bears—Sammi and Eve—in their own nearby habitats and their caregivers hear them all making calls to one another. It is an amazing happily ever after.” 

Bears and other iconic wildlife are losing their natural habitat as suburban development expands across the country. Almrud said, “Wild animals are victims of humans encroaching on their world. Jackie and Russell almost lost their lives because of it. We encourage communities to take simple steps to co-exist with bears, which can be as easy as better managing outdoor trash cans so that  animals and people can stay safe and leave each other alone.” 

The Humane Society of the United States, whose affiliate the Fund for Animals operates Black Beauty Ranch, offers these tips on how to prevent conflicts with bears:

  • Make trash cans inaccessible. Bring them inside at night or buy a bear-resistant trash can or an enclosure for the container.
  • Enclose your compost pile. Open compost piles, especially those that include kitchen scraps, are an irresistible treat in bear country. Burying compost won’t work because bears will easily find and dig it up.
  • Recycle wisely. If you store recyclables outside, use enclosed or bear resistant bins. Persistent bears will break into even ruggedly built bins.
  • Keep your barbecue grill clean and as free of drippings as possible. Move the grill away from your house when you aren’t using it and clean it regularly with ammonia or bleach.
  • Rethink your bird feeders. In the summer, birds can make do with naturally available foods. If you do set up feeders, install them away from your house and be prepared to remove them if they become an attractant to hungry bears.

Communities experiencing bear problems can take important steps that educate residents on living with bears. That includes providing community-wide education and resources on being bear aware; removing attractants and requiring the use of bear resistant containers that secure garbage and recycling; instituting fines for residents who provide food that may condition bears to human food; and training field responders like police and animal control officers in aversive conditioning techniques and approaches to managing and correcting bad bear behavior.

Download photos and video of Jackie and Russell

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