An orphaned bear cub that had been spotted around Whistler last week has been captured and taken to a care facility to spend the winter.
“We’ve been aware of this bear for a few days,” said Sgt. Simon Gravel with the Conservation Officer Service (COS).
The bear had been seen in and around the Taluswood area over the last few days, and was spotted climbing nearby crabapple trees to access food. He was immobilized and captured on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 14, before being taken to Langley's Critter Care facility the following morning. It’s unknown how the cub became orphaned or what may have happened to its mother.
Gravel said the male cub did not show any signs of conflict behaviour and met the COS’s threshold for care.
“We evaluated the situation, assessed the bear and determined he was underweight a bit for this time of year,” he added. “Often a bear like this will be persistent in trying to access food at all costs. So to avoid him getting into a higher level of conflict, we determined it was the best thing to capture him and take him to the Critter Care facility."
The 34-pound cub will likely remain in care until June, Gravel said, at which point he will be released back to the Whistler area. Thanks to a local family who took an interest in the young bear, the cub will also have some of its costs covered while at Critter Care. Another family also made a $500 donation.
“I’m very thankful that he has the opportunity and a second chance at life,” said Sylvia Dolson, executive director of the Whistler Get Bear Smart Society.
Still, Dolson is pushing the provincial government for changes in how the COS handles orphaned cubs. Currently, any orphaned cub that has been exposed to conflict behaviour or accessed non-natural food sources is not eligible for rehabilitation. The COS has said the policy, which came under fire last month after a sow bear and its cub were shot and killed, is under review.
“We want all cubs to be able to go to rehab,” Dolson said. “We’ve dug up the science and the science supports the policy.”
For more on this story, check back with Pique on Thursday.