Maine wildlife officials arranged an unusual adoption last week after a mother black bear was killed by a passing car in Caribou.

Caribou police called Game Warden Alan Dudley to report that the sow’s orphaned cub was in the area of the Route 1 crash and they could hear it calling, according to a blog post by Mark Latti, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Maine Game Warden Alan Dudley holds the rescued cub. He brought the cub home with him in a dog kennel. Photo courtesy of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

It was 10:30 p.m. and Dudley found the bleating cub a couple of feet up a tree. That’s as far as it could climb.

Dudley scooped up the animal, put it in a dog kennel and brought it home for the night.

Dudley enlisted the help of wildlife biologists Amanda DeMusz and Randy Cross, who has spent 35 years researching bears in Maine.

Cross was able to choose a couple of likely surrogate mothers from among the female collared bears in the area.

DeMusz and Cross drove a truck for 45 minutes over thawing, unpaved roads, rode a snowmobile a couple of miles and then snowshoed for another mile as they sought the bears’ dens.

When they found the den of a sow who had one cub, as Latti writes, “Randy moved quietly and deliberately as to not alarm the sow, and moved closer with the cub in his hand, and when at the den entrance, gently placed the cub at the mouth of the den, where it crawled into the den and leaned against its new mother.”

Biologists say that once the bears emerge from their den, the sow will take care of the cub as though it were her own.

The cub, at bottom right, with its adopted mother, visible at left, in their den. Photo courtesy of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife