By Cecile Favron
A Smithers wildlife rehabilitation centre is making a plea for financial help following the arrival of a record number of young bear cubs this spring.
The Northern Lights Wildlife Society shelter has rescued over 15 injured or orphaned cubs in recent weeks, and founder Angelika Langen said that feeding them will put the society in serious financial trouble.
“It’s absolutely crazy this year, we’ve never ever had so many [cubs] of this age and this early in the year,” said Langen. “We’re going to be facing some serious trouble financially because bear milk is really expensive.”
Though the shelter, run entirely on private and corporate donations, has accommodated over three dozen bear cubs in the past, this year is different because they are younger and rescue teams are being called out earlier in the season.
Northern Lights is not sure why there has been the increase in orphaned cubs, but thinks it is likely that more cases are getting reported to them.
“We have better relationships formed over the years with conservation officers and the public, we get it reported faster and we can react quicker. We can bring those cubs in that quite often were left out there in the past,” explained Langen.
Feeding the cubs who have been separated from their mothers is costing the society more than one $360 bucket of specialized bear milk per day, Langen estimates.
“We are going to need some serious help to feed that many cubs and it an expense that we absolutely had no way of budgeting for because it has never happened in 26 years,” she said.
The shelter also received two cubs from an incident at a provincial park in Prince George on May 17 when a mother bear attacked a man walking his dog. The sow was shot and the cubs were on a truck within an hour heading for the shelter, according to Langen.
Langen says she would like people to avoid laying blame for the death of an animal in such cases and instead adjust their own actions so situations do not arise where conservation officers need to be called in.
“The solution has to be that humans are more careful not to attract them so they get into less conflict with the bears,” she explained.
As for the cubs at the Northern Lights shelter, Langen says they will need to be fed the specialized milk until August, when they can start eating a wider variety of foods.
They will be released into the wild next spring.
Read the full story in the June 1 edition of The Interior News.