British Columbia

Motherless bear cub caught by neighbours, sent to sanctuary

Lots of bears were destroyed by conservation officers this year, including 27 in Revelstoke alone. But one bear cub in the town escaped that fate thanks to the efforts of some of the town's residents.

The bear cub, less than a year old, has been taken to a bear refuge in Smithers

The black bear cub, which has brown-tinted fur, is now at the Northern Lights Wildlife Centre in Smithers. (Northern Lights Wildlife Society/Facebook)

Many bears have been shot by conservation officers in B.C. this year, but a tiny black bear cub hanging around a Revelstoke neighbourhood will get a second chance.

The motherless cub, about the size of a small dog, was hanging around the home of Fred and Penny Lee for about a month before it was trapped by the Lees and their neighbours and taken to a bear rehabilitation centre in Smithers.

"It kept coming and going, and we knew with this cold weather coming it probably didn't have a chance for the rest of the winter," Fred Lee told Radio West guest host Josh Pagé.

The Lees and their neighbours got a cub trap from the Northern Lights Wildlife Centre in Smithers and, with a conservation officers' approval, worked on catching the tiny bear.

"It worked out. It took a couple days to catch him ... We just baited him into the trap with grapes and it went pretty smooth, actually."

Bear suitable for rehabilitation

Conservation officer Dan Bartol says the cub, probably less than a year old, should have been in a den by now.

But he's glad it will be in safe hands — and that he didn't need to kill the bear.

In Revelstoke alone, 27 bears were destroyed this year, which Bartol says is a shocking and preventable number.

"This is not an effective or pleasant way to manage wildlife," he said. "Particularly large carnivores that are such a landmark species, especially in a mountain community like Revelstoke."

Bartol approved the efforts of the Lees and their neighbours to trap the bear because he believed they could catch it safely and the bear itself was orphaned, young, healthy, not habituated to human food and had a suitable place waiting for it in the bear sanctuary.

Bartol says members of the public who see a motherless cub should not try to trap it on their own and instead call the Conservation Service.

With files from Bob Keating and CBC Radio One's Radio West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Motherless bear cub caught by neighbours, sent to sanctuary