With never-used paw pads and tiny eyes that have barely opened, black bear cubs Nutmeg and Pepper appear as fragile as they are cute.
The seven-week-old brothers are currently being bottled-fed at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society after they were rescued near 100 Mile House on Feb. 17.
They were orphaned after workers disturbed their den, causing their mother to flee.
Several attempts were made to reunite the male cubs with their mother, but she never returned.
A Quesnel-based shelter contacted Peter and Angelika Langen from the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, which has rehabilitated more than 300 bears at its property near Smithers.
Angelika Langen said she and Peter called on their network of volunteers to help transport the bears immediately.
“We started driving from here, people started driving from there and in the meantime you get permission from the government that we can take them,” she said.
“We got the call here at eight o’clock in the morning, by 12 o’clock I had the bears in my hands.”
The diminutive brothers, one black and one brown, were just five weeks old when they arrived at NLWS March 1.
They require around the clock care and a four-hourly feeding regime comprising specialized formula and electrolytes.
Despite contracting diarrhea shorty after arriving, the cubs have already doubled in size from less than one kilogram to almost 2 kg.
“You’re always on edge, the first few months is so critical but then they go out there and they do their own thing and some succeed and some don’t,” she said.
Another two male cubs about the same age were rushed to the NWLS property on March 5 after workers driving a backhoe disturbed their den near Smithers.
Despite some criticism of the workers on social media, Langen praised them for digging the cubs out of the ground to save them from suffocation.
“If there is a mistake for whatever reason, and there are some lives that could be saved, then people should feel safe to come to us and not being judged and pulled apart afterwards,” she said.
All of the cubs were named by the public in a competition on social media, including newcomers Chili and Turmeric.
Langen said they were healthy and some were starting to test their wobbly legs for the first time.
“The really tiny one, that’s Turmeric, he’s just so determined,” she said.
“You see him and he stands up on his little legs and he’s just shaking, the whole little body is shaking, but he’s standing.”