The culmination of months of work - orphaned brown bears are released back into the wild in Russia's Tver region.

The cubs are taken in by the The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) when their hibernating mothers are shot by hunters.

Even though they need human intervention at first, the bears are gradually isolated from people and learn to find food, build dens and hibernate.

Rescue Center manager, Sergei Pazhetnov, says he thinks the cubs are ready for winter.

SOUNDBITE: Sergei Pazhetnov, IFAW Bear Rescue Center manager, saying (Russian):

"One month ahead of the release we put the cubs in quarantine and examine them for diseases. It's important not to transfer illnesses to the wild population as well as to check whether the cubs are well. Only healthy bears are released back to the forest."

The cubs are tranquilized for the physical examination and then transported for release.

The sport of shooting hibernating bears has decimated the region's brown bear population and Russia has banned the winter den hunt.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has returned more than 190 bears to the forest.