British Columbia

Orphaned bear cub rescued near Lillooet after mother shot by hunter

An orphaned bear cub was rescued by volunteers with the Northern Lights Wildlife Society this week after its mother was shot by a hunter.

Wildlife rescue society thankful hunter reported the incident after mistakenly shooting nursing sow

The orphaned black bear cub will join 13 other cubs at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society's sanctuary in Smithers, B.C., before being released back into the wild next June. (Northern Lights Wildlife Society)

An orphaned bear cub was rescued by volunteers with the Northern Lights Wildlife Society this week after its mother was shot by a hunter.

The hunter was stalking an adult black bear near the community of Bralorne B.C., west of Lillooet but didn't realize the sow was still nursing a cub, according to B.C. Conservation Officer Bob Butcher.

"A sow in accompaniment of a cub — you're not supposed to shoot," he said.

Under the Wildlife Act it's an offence to to kill a black bear less than two years of age or a black bear in the company of one.

It was only after he shot the bear and approached his kill that the hunter heard a rustling in the bushes and discovered the cub, Butcher said.

Hunter reported his mistake 

The hunter contacted the B.C. Conservation Service and met Butcher at the site.

"In this case — and it happens — for him to take responsibility and call himself in like that, we appreciate that and we encourage people to do that."

The conservation service is investigating, but Butcher said the hunter did the right thing in reporting the offence and will likely not face fines or charges.

The Northern Lights Wildlife Society implants microchips and ear tags into each bear cub that comes into its sanctuary and then introduces the cub to other young bears so they can develop social bonds. (Northern Lights Wildlife Society)

Butcher called the Northern Lights Wildlife Society after he was unable to capture the orphaned cub.

Volunteers with the wildlife rescue organization set up a live trap near the sow's carcass in order to capture the young bear according to Angelika Langen, co-founder and manager of the society.

The cub was quite elusive, she said, and it took more than a week to catch it.

"It was not a cub that was easily captured," Langen said. "He gave us — or she, as we don't know [the gender] yet — a run for the money, that's for sure."

Cub is in good health

 On Wednesday, Langen drove the cub to the society's wildlife rescue sanctuary in Smithers.

She said the young bear, which is about four to five months old, is in good health and will join 13 other bear cubs the sanctuary is currently caring for.
    
"[The cub] will go into hibernation in the fall and sleep throughout the winter." she said.

"When he comes out in the spring, he will have a couple more months with us before we are releasing him in June."

Langen says although she doesn't like bear hunting, she is thankful the hunter reported his mistake which allowed the cub to be rescued.

"It takes courage to do so," she said. "What he did was the right thing."

About the Author

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan