Three orphaned male grizzly bear cubs are now in an animal rescue sanctuary after their mother was struck and killed near Lincoln.

Bear Specialist with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Jamie Jonkel, said the female grizzly was killed on Tuesday, June 5.

“Last Tuesday, we had a female grizzly struck on Highway 200 near Lincoln,” said Jonkel. “We got a call from a truck driver that said he saw a dead bear with three little cubs on top, and we didn’t know it was a grizzly until it was confirmed by the U.S. Forest Service.”

Jonkel described how the cubs were safely captured.

“These cubs are very easy to capture as long as you have the mother’s body, so we put her inside a culvert trap,” he said. “The first night, one of the little males climbed on top of her. We put him in a portable kennel, and then the next night we caught the other two little males and then we took them over to the Helena Rehab Center.”

Jonkel said the cubs are safe, but are being kept away from the public so they don’t become accustomed to humans. He said the cubs are only about 25 pounds apiece and are still nursing.

He said placing the cubs in the wild may prove difficult, now that they have had human contact.

“Montana may seen big and wild, but the most remote spot is easily still only about 30 miles from the nearest home site or road,” he said. “When they get rehabbed they can’t help but become acclimated to people, and then the first thing they do is come down to the nearest place and see if they have any handouts. Any kind of bear that gets food-conditioned is something we don’t like to see out there in the wild.”

Wildlife author Susan Campbell Reneau has been in contact with individuals who may be able to place the cubs in a zoo, but for now they are at the Montana Wildlife Center at Montana Wild near Helena.