Officials say they received a tip that a man was showing the cubs to people at a gas station in North San Juan, offering them for sale.
When game wardens arrived, they found the man with the cubs in a cage, but the man denied trying to sell the cubs. Officials say he told them he was trying to give the cubs a "good home."
The man said he shot and killed the mother bear when she tried to get into a tent-trailer that he was living in. But officials were unable to find any sign of a larger bear in the area. The bear's carcass was also not found.
No arrests have been made. The incident remains under investigation.
The cubs, one male and one female, are being cared for at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. The facility is the only wildlife facility in California licensed to rehabilitate bears and return them to the wild, according to officials.
The cubs are about four to five months old and in "good, healthy condition."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.