Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Black bear mama, 4 cubs caught snacking under Labrador ice pans

One brave bear cub was feeling adventurous when he came across the mayor of Cartwright last week.

'Very rare' to see so many cubs at once — even in Labrador: Dwight Lethbridge

Three bear cubs sit and watch Dwight Lethbridge on his snowmobile, while waiting for their fourth sibling to catch up to mama bear. (Dwight Lethbridge)

Seeing a black bear in Labrador isn't an unusual sighting, but a mama bear and four young cubs is pretty rare.

Dwight Lethbridge, mayor of Cartwright, was doing some work at his fish lodge last week when he spotted a black bear out on the ice pans.

A good day at work. Just happened to be [the] right time, right place.- Dwight Lethbridge

To his delight, four miniature versions of the bear popped up out of the water.

"They were up under an ice pan hauling back seaweed and kelp looking for food. Mussels and clams and whatnot," says Lethbridge.

Lethbridge had spotted the furry family the previous week but didn't have a camera handy, so he was excited to see them hanging around a second time.

One of the brave cubs was able to get up off the ice on its own and ran over to investigate Lethbridge, who was watching nearby on his snowmobile.

Bear leads cubs on adventure across ice pans

6 years ago
Duration 1:07
Four cubs and sow were spotted near the Pratt Falls Salmon Lodge in Cartwright, N.L. on May 5

'Prepared for anything'

Mama bear was focused on making sure the other three cubs got themselves up, but Lethbridge said he was prepared to get away if she showed any signs of aggression.

"At the point in the video where the cub came up to me, of course I was only about six or seven feet away from the cub, but the mom wasn't seeming aggressive at all," he said.

One brave bear cub comes up close to Dwight Lethbridge, while waiting for his three slower siblings to get up off the ice pans. (Dwight Lethbridge)

"I was prepared for anything — I had my snowmobile running, I was on it. I even had a loaded gun just in case — that would have been an absolute last resort, of course. My plan was to just leave if she showed any signs of aggression."

The Facebook video, posted on May 5, had been viewed more than 55,000 times by Monday morning.

Lethbridge said he's seen plenty of bears and cubs during his life in Labrador, but seeing four cubs belonging to one mama is "very rare."

"First time I ever seen four was this brood. I've seen three a couple times in my life, and I often see one or two, but first time for four — and a great time to have a camera," he said.

"A good day at work. Just happened to be right time, right place."

With files from Lisa Gushue