The cubs, a male and female believed to be siblings, are going to a rehabilitation center, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. Workers plan to cut down on their human contact and then place them in a den in the wild while they hibernate this winter.
"Then we hope they go back to sleep and wake up a few months later," said Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game.
The cubs appear to be around 5 or 6 months old. One weighs 11 pounds and the other 13.
The bears were found at a gas station in North San Juan, after someone called a poaching hotline and reported a man was there with two cubs in a cage. The man told Nevada County sheriff's deputies and a game warden he had killed the cubs' mother on his property and was "just trying to find them a good home."
"He told us he had shot the mother bear in self-defense and the mother bear ran off, leaving the cubs behind," Foy said. "He apparently kept the cubs for a couple of days, then made his decision."
Foy said a number of things about the story "don't add up." Wardens were unable to find the mother's body and said the man had no injuries suggesting an encounter with a bear.
The man could face criminal charges, Foy said.