The Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter has just rescued its 500th bear.
“It is bittersweet,” said shelter owner Angelika Langen. “On the one hand we are really happy that we can help but on the other hand I find it incredibly sad that this need exists, that we can’t coexist better and leave the animals alone more than we do.”
The shelter currently has 21 black bear and two grizzly cubs in their care and the busy season of the year is still coming up for the shelter with October usually being their busiest month.
Langen is really encouraging people to get rid of attractants from their yards, such as cleaning off the fruit from trees, storing garbage properly and getting rid of bird feeders.
“Don’t let bears pay the price for not doing the right thing, for being lazy or not being able to,” she said. “I’m not always saying people are being lazy, I know there are elderly people that can’t remove apples but do the right thing and ask for help or have the trees removed. Be responsible.”
Langen added when problem bears are destroyed, the whole family including the cubs are put down, not just the adults.
“The conservation office really wants this to stop,” she said. “They are so tired of being called out to kill animals. That isn’t why they are in the job. They want to get people’s attention and say hey, you really have to change their ways.”
The wildlife shelter has been rescuing bears for 29 years and Langen said they couldn’t do it without the community’s support.
“I always like to thank people for making this possible,” she said. “We are facilitating, but there are a huge amount of people involved in making these rescues possible…. the conservation office, the volunteers, the donors. It takes a village to raise an orphan bear.”