Baby bear rescued on Vancouver Island after mother dies

“The little cub was laying on its mother.”

Bear Cub Rescue Tofino from The Whale Centre on Vimeo.

A team of local wildlife watching guides fastened a happy ending onto a heartbreaking situation over the weekend by rescuing a tiny baby black bear that was stubbornly refusing to leave its dead mother’s side.

John Forde and Jennifer Steven co-own The Whale Centre in Tofino and, when the husband and wife team received a report of a bear cub hanging around a deceased adult bear in Ross Pass on Friday, they immediately headed out to investigate, discovering the tragic scene around 5 p.m.

“We got up there and the little cub was hanging around the mom and was a little too skittish and spooked and went up to the top of one of the trees,” Forde told the Westerly News.

He said he and Steven returned for another rescue effort early Saturday morning.

“The little cub was laying on its mother. Jen dropped me on the rocks a little ways away and I snuck around and slowly went up and, this time, she didn’t run away. She actually went back and used [her] mom as protection and I was able to capture her and carry her back down and onto the boat,” he said.

“It was a tiny little cub. Probably three to four months old, so really small, but still big claws and teeth and all the rest of that…It sort of growled and complained at first and then clawed onto me and just held on and I was able to get a hold of it and get her back. It was pretty cool.”

He said he knew if he could not grab the cub, it would not survive the wild on its own.

“All I wanted to do was be super calm and not spook it, so that I had the chance to capture it because I knew that, if I couldn’t get a hold of this bear, if it kept eluding me, it was going die up there. It would have no other hope to survive,” he said. “That’s all I was thinking. I wasn’t really concerned about anything else. I had thick gloves and long sleeve jacket on so I wasn’t too concerned…but when it started crawling up onto my back, I was just going, ‘Oh man, don’t bite me now.”

In a blog posted to The Whale Centre’s website, Steven recalled the young bear’s distress.

“It was screaming. My heart was breaking listening to its screams but I knew this was its only chance to survive,” she wrote.

The bear was brought back to Tofino and handed over to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service in Port Alberni, which then took it to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington where it will be raised with the intent of releasing it back into the wild once it’s ready, according to Forde.

He said it was the first time he had ever handled a bear and he was happy to help give this one a chance at survival.

“It just makes your heart glow. It makes you feel like you’re doing something good in this world especially with all the bad things out there,” he said. “It’s just part of my nature to do that. I’ve always felt close to animals and wildlife. A poor helpless little thing like that; I’m not one to just sit back and not help. That’s not me.”

He added the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre plans to release the bear back to where it was rescued from and he encourages locals to look into the organization and consider donating.

“They’re making a difference,” he said. “Everybody moves out here because they enjoy the wildness and the wilderness and these guys are doing a good thing to help animals out.”

Trevor Chester, an Animal Care Technician with the Recovery Centre, told the Westerly Monday morning that the bear is doing well, but is malnourished.

“It was definitely underweight when it came in. We’re not sure how long it’s mom had passed away, but it’s definitely underweight so it’s been alone for some time at least. So, that’s the situation we have right now,” he said adding the small animal is being fed a special milk-formula designed for bear cubs.

“The care is a little bit more hands-on, at least at first. But, we want to get them away from us as soon as possible so that they don’t become habituated…We want to get them on their own as soon as possible so that we don’t have to be physically feeding them and so they don’t think that we’re ‘mom.’ The sooner we can get them eating on their own, the better. That’s the goal. Then we can lead them on their own and they can start learning to be a bear.”

He said the centre hopes to release the bear back into the wild in about a year-and-a-half.

“That’s about how long they would stay with mom until they’re on their own in the wild. So that’s generally how long they stay here, until they’re old enough to be able to fend for themselves,” he said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northern Savings buys old Dairy Queen building

Old Prince Rupert DQ building has been vacant in since the 1990s

PHOTOS: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Secondary project added to Terrace Aquatic Centre

The $131,000 vestibule renovation will not delay pool opening

Terrace and Thornhill school board trustee candidates: why they’re running

There are two open positions in Terrace, one in Thornhill

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Just 7% of Northern B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Britain, EU decide to take some time in getting Brexit right

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “we need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks.”

Most Read