The orphaned bear cub rescued from a property near Mahood Lake on Monday, Oct. 8. Submitted photo.

Orphaned, underweight bear cub rescued near Mahood Lake

This was the second bear cub rescued by the Northern Lights Wildlife Society over Thanksgiving

An orphaned and underweight black bear cub was rescued off a property near Mahood Lake late in the evening on Thanksgiving Monday.

Angelika Langen of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society said the cub had been observed on her own for two weeks and at only 35 to 40 lbs, she would not have survived hibernation by herself.

“I don’t see any injuries. She got into some chicken starter there and that stuff is medicated, which is not really good for them.”

Langen said the cub was lethargic and showed slow reaction time.

She was able to tranquilize the cub and transfer her to the transport box beside an injured cub that was rescued in Williams Lake on Sunday. Both cubs will be rehabilitated and then hibernate at the facility in Smithers.

Volunteers will release the bears in June of 2019, when they would have naturally left their mothers. Langen said everything they do is run through the Conservation Officer Service for approval. So when the Mahood Lake area resident contacted the society directly, they were advised to make an official report.

Conservation officers reviewed the situation and agreed that the cub was a candidate for rehab.

Only after it’s been determined that the cub was born this year, has been orphaned and can’t survive the winter alone (either because it’s injured or underweight) can the society go in to rescue it.

If, however, the cub has already become habituated to human food sources, like garbage or bird feeders or fruit trees, they are no longer a candidate for rehabilitation and must be put down.

“Especially this time of year, if they have already been taught by the mother where they find this kind of food they will be really likely to re-offend,” said Langen.

“Then we’re going through all this and then we’re putting them out just to create a problem there. That’s really not helpful.”

The orphaned cub that was put down after it was spotted in a tree near 100 Mile Elementary, for example, did not qualify for relocation or rehabilitation.

James Zucchelli, of the 100 Mile House Conservation Officer Service, said there were several reported incidents of that cub coming in close proximity of people and feeding on garbage, compost, bird feeders, barbecues, etc.

“It basically has no idea which way is up and which way to go, so it’s just a matter of time before it’s going to cause problems or it’s going to starve to death here in the fall and in the winter.”

Zucchelli said it’s an “unfortunate circumstance” that conservation officers are put in when people are irresponsible with their attractants and bears become conditioned to non-natural food sources.

Especially this time of year, “no amount of rehabilitation is going to be effective,” when bears grow accustomed to human food sources, he said.

“So you’re just prolonging the death of the bears.”

Doing what feels good to us humans, he said, is often not the best thing for the animal’s welfare and he called it “a lose-lose situation” when people attract bears onto their properties.

Langen mirrored Zucchelli’s sentiments, saying it’s “the easy way out” to blame a conservation officer for putting a bear down when it’s often due to the complacency of a resident not clearing his or her attractants.

“I really don’t feel that we should become a feel-good solution for people.”

Rehabilitation is for “minimizing our footsteps in those cases where accidents occur,” like accidents with vehicles or accidental hunting shootings, said Langen, and not to get bears out of people’s garbages.

She said the majority of cases, when bears are put down after getting into garbages, can be prevented if people take more care to clear their attractants.

The two bears rescued from Williams Lake and Mahood Lake are numbers 20 and 21 for the society so far this year, according to Langen.

The society’s facility is not open to the public. Each bear receives its own caretaker during rehabilitation, which serves as its mother figure. They are taught to hide from other people so that they do not become accustomed to humans and can be safely released without risk of conflict.

She said they track the bears using collars, tags or chips and, from what they can tell, the bears are successful once they are released back into the wild.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Berth at bowling provincials right up lakecity youth’s alley

A Williams Lake youth bowler will have a shot at a youth… Continue reading

Falcons swoop in on Hope hoops tourney championship

The Lake City Falcons senior boys basketball team is soaring high after… Continue reading

Services set to return to normal at Cariboo Memorial Hospital after cold weather wreaks havoc

Interior Health said efforts to get water back on at CMH have been successful

Midget Female Timberwolves close out regular season with win, tie

The T-wolves final position in the standings now depends on its opponents results

FOREST INK: Developing a local market for biochar

A good place to start is an article in the 2016 BC Organic Grower Journal by Marjorie Harris

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read