Yesterday, a mother black bear was killed on Highway 23S just outside of Blanket Creek Provincial Park. Her two small cubs were unharmed.
Conservation Officers (CO) from Invermere came down in an effort to capture the two cubs.
“They spent the majority of the day catching the cubs, it was a bit of a rigamarole,” explains Maggie Spizzirri, Revelstoke’s Bear Aware Coordinator. “They caught one cub right away, as cubs this young stay close to their mothers. The other cub bolted up a tree and the COs were unsuccessful in trying to coax it down.”
In the end, a live bear trap with the captured sibling was placed next to the mother, and the other cub eventually headed in. Both cubs were then put into a large dog crate.
“It really tells you this size of them, that two bear cubs fit in one large kennel,” says Spizzirri.
The cubs are an estimated 5 months old.
“Both cubs will be taken to Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers,” she explains. “We use the Kamloops Wildlife Park as a transfer, and from there they will go up to Smithers.”
It isn’t the first time young bears from Revelstoke have been sent to Northern Lights.
“Northern Lights takes amazing care of the cubs in their care and releases them back into the wilds when they are old enough,” says Spizzirri.
Spizzirri notes the rescue would not have been possible without the help of CO Greg, who went above and beyond to get these cubs, Wendy – a Northern Lights volunteer, Cheryl who kindly transported the cubs to Kamloops, and Bandstra Trucking who yet again is transporting them from Kamloops to Smithers, and the community of Revelstoke who answered the call to find a crate to transport the cubs in.
Calling the CO is important if you hit a bear, and the best method is using the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line – 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.
“If a mom bear is hit, it’s likely the cubs will not survive unless quick action is taken to get them transferred,” explains Spizzirri. “The CO’s have a better grasp of the bears in the area and where they are travelling, so they have a better idea if there are cubs out there.”
Many problem bears of the area are young, she notes, and young bears go for easy food, like garbage and un gleaned fruit. “The first time out of the nest and the bears might be shoved around by other bears, so they seek out easy food. And they always come back for it, which is why it is so important for young bears to learn which foods are appropriate for them.”
Spizzirri explains it has been far more active year for bears this spring across the province. “We aren’t sure why, maybe they had a great over winter and are having more cubs, but it is a very active spring in comparison to other years,” she says.
In Revelstoke, the grizzly bears down by the water around the Selkirk Saddle Club has meant black bears have been pushed out of the area.
“Grizzlies rule the roost, so there are less black bear sightings in those areas, but more than the norm in the Columbia Park area,” Spizzirri says.
With high bear activity, residents must be vigilant about being bear aware year round. “We don’t want a fall like in 2016,” she says.
There is some misconception that the bears, who are skinny, are hungrier or more aggressive than normal. Spizzirri notes this is not the case, and the bears do not need any garbage or fruit to help them along.
“A lot of people think the bears are starving because they are skinny, but that isn’t the case. They are skinny because they used up all the fat storage they had for the winter, and that is the standard process for them. The bears actually eat less in the spring and early summer, about five to ten thousand calories a day, versus twenty to twenty five thousand a day in the fall.”
In Revelstoke, being bear aware isn’t a seasonal activity, but rather a worthwhile year round endeavour.