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Orphaned bear cub rescued in Smithers, outside Canadian Tire

Black bear cub spotted in front of Bethel Reformed Church, alongside Highway 16 (Ashley Duursma).

A bear cub was rescued last night after the Conservation Officer Service received reports of a small black bear wandering Highway 16. Conservation officers transported the bear to the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter, where he will be cared for over the winter and released in the spring.

The bear was spotted in front of the Bethel Reformed Church at around noon, and made his way to the Canadian Tire across the street, where he was rescued later that afternoon.

“(Black bears) don’t leave their young unless something bad has happened to them, it’s likely the mom is dead,” explained Northern Lights manager and co-founder Angelika Langen.

In order to hibernate for the winter, black bears need the warmth and support of their mother and siblings. “The chance that once they (black bear cubs) are separated or orphaned, that they actually survive is relatively slim,” said Langen.

Hibernation is dependent on weather and food supply, explained Langen. Once the temperature is cold and the bear has stored enough energy, it will go into hibernation.

As a part of the intake process, Northern Lights measures and weighs its rescued animals. The male black bear cub, rescued last night, weighed 30 lbs. In order to go into hibernation, a bear must be between 45 lbs and 50 lbs.

“The bear was put in a group of young bears, where we will keep him until next year in June. They will all be released back into the wild again, that’s the time where they would naturally disperse from their mother,” explained Langen.

“We’re just trying to mimic nature that way.”

Forest fires and drought have resulted in an influx of bears to the sanctuary, from across the province. Northern Lights currently has approximately 70 black bears on-site, almost double a normal year.