North Island Wildife Recovery Centre animal care technician Tawny Molland with the orphaned baby bear that was brought to the centre May 24. — Lauren Collins photo

B.C. wildlife centre cares for orphaned bear found last month

Couple rescues cub found trying to nurse off dead mother on Vancouver Island

Just as a Vancouver Island wildlife recovery centre was preparing to release eight bears into the wild, a new baby bear cub was rescued and brought into the centre.

It was found in Tofino by John Forde and Jennifer Steven late last month, who brought it to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association near Parksville.

“He was starving when he came in. He was nursing off of his dead mom, so we don’t know how long he’d been doing that for,” said animal care technician Tawny Molland.

“He was pretty tiny when he came here. It took a little bit for him to start trying to take food. We gradually got to the point where he was wanting the food from the syringe and he was trying to do it on his own and we got him to start taking from a bowl and we were spoon feeding him and all of a sudden he just took to the bowl and now he’s eating on his own.”

Forde and Steven, wildlife watching guides from Tofino, found the baby bear refusing to leave its mother’s side. The couple told Black Press Media they had received a report of a bear cub hanging around a deceased adult bear.

After a failed attempt at rescuing the bear the first day, Forde and Steven returned the following morning and managed to rescue the bear.

RELATED: Baby bear rescued on Vancouver Island after mother dies

Molland said it was “absolutely amazing” that Forde was able to get the bear. She said it could have gone very differently if Forde and Steven had been a few days later to rescue the bear.

“He can’t survive on his own. If it wasn’t for John Forde finding him and actually being able to rescue him, he never would have survived. It was huge that he got him here.”

Although the bear has been at the centre for about two weeks, Molland said, it will be a while yet before he’s released.

“He’ll be in here for a while and then we’ll move him into a bigger enclosure,” she said. “Then we’ll just gradually keep building up his appetite, switching over from liquid foods to solid food. He’ll be here for a while yet. He’ll probably be here for 15 to 18 months.”

After a while, she said, there will be “less and less people; less and less contact because we want him to be a wild bear because we do want him to be released back into the wild.”

NIWRA is no stranger to rehabilitating bears to release them back into the wild. There are currently eight other bears in the pre-release enclosure.

“What we’re waiting for right now is just the perfect conditions for them to be released back into the wild. Hopefully in the next few months they will be released,” Molland said.

The perfect conditions, she said, include the availability of food sources such as the salmon run and berries to get the bears ready for the winter months.

But when it comes time to release the bears, Molland said, it will be up to the conservation officers as to where the bears will go.

While eight bears in pre-release may sound like a large number, NIWRA co-founder Robin Campbell said the centre has previously held as many as 19 bears at one time. He said it was hard rotating the bears through the different enclosures.

From that point, he said, the centre had to figure out the maximum number of bears it could keep at one time. He said the pre-release enclosure doesn’t really count, so the centre is able to take more bears into nursing, if needed.

“With bears, they start fighting and then all of a sudden it gets more serious and then they turn themselves into wild bears,” he said. “It’s amazing to watch them grow from something like that.”

Campbell said while it’s worth it to help the bears, it can be expensive. It costs roughly $40 per day to look after one bear.

Molland said the centre is always relying on donations of food such as dog food and lots of fruits.

Send story tips: lauren.collins@pqbnews.com

Just Posted

Get those flowers competition ready

Gardeners will come together June 29, for the 22nd Juried Flower Show

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Most long-weekend rain has already fallen

A mix of sun and cloud is expected for the last two days of the the Victoria Day weekend.

Councillor trying for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding federal seat

Joan Phillip acclaimed as NDP candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Update: Mother dead, youth in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Sandy Point Campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Former Greyhound bus drivers gather in the Okanagan for one last hurrah

Bash kicks off Friday in Penticton and runs until Sunday

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Court decision prompts regional district to throw flood mitigation back at province

Public safety minister maintains Newsome Creek concerns in hands of local government

Woodworth purchased Summerland rink, created butcher operation

Giant’s Head Rink had been one of three facilities in Summerland

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Some South Okanagan students are $1,000 richer

Million Dollar Bursary Program offers bursaries each year to Interior Savings’ young members

Okanagan adventurer continues motorcycle trip around the world

Vernon local James Leigh recently completed the third of five legs of the journey, travelling through China and Kazakhstan

Riders “step up” their game at Coldstream Equestrian Clinic

Riders from across the Okanagan travelled to Coldstream to train for the 2019 55+ Senior Games, which take place in Kelowna this fall.

Most Read