Bear cub found in middle of Comox Valley highway euthanized

Click to play video: 'Islanders fear the worst for orphaned bear cub'
Islanders fear the worst for orphaned bear cub
Residents rushed to try to save a bear cub found wandering on the highway in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island over the holiday weekend. Cassidy Mosconi reports. – Dec 25, 2023

An effort to save a suspected orphaned bear cub in the Comox Valley has come to a sad end.

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) has confirmed the cub seen wandering alone along Highway 19 was euthanized.

The bear was spotted in the middle of the road in the Buckley Bay area last week.

“I came around the corner and I spotted something black, and as I got closer, it was a little black bear in the middle of between the two lanes,” driver Kim Cooper said.

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Cooper says she stopped and snapped a photo of the cub. She and other drivers managed to get the animal off the road by forming a chain, making noise and corralling it.

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”He had looked like he had something wrong with his back right leg. More or less his paw,” she said.

Conservation officers were called and determined the cub was too injured and weak to survive.

Cooper says she and some of the other people who stopped to help the bear to safety are upset the cub was put down before being brought to a rehabilitation centre for assessment.

“Just uncalled for. That bear could have been rehabilitated at the wildlife centre for sure,” she said. “They should of made the decision at the wildlife recovery centre, not on the side of the highway.”

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Wildlife biologist and human-bear conflict expert Lana Ciarniello says whether a bear could survive on its own or be rehabilitated depends on the condition it is in when it is found.

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“If the cubs are coming in really good condition this late and fall into winter, it is possible that they could survive. Teeny cubs of the year in the spring. There’s no way at all. It’s not going to survive,” said Ciarniello, who is also the co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Bear Specialist Group.

“But for sure, the best place for it to be would be in a rehab facility just to hold it over, be able to assess the condition of the cub.”

If people encounter a bear cub, Ciarniello says they should not try to rescue the animal or touch it themselves.

“They have teeth, a full set with their canines and they have extremely sharp claws,” she said.

Anyone who finds what they believe is an orphaned cub can call COS at 1-877-952-7277 or 604-905-BEAR.

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