After spending nearly a year nursing 32 orphaned black bear cubs back to health, the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley has started releasing them back into the wild.
It is a big job that is carried out with the help of the Conservation Officers Service, whose members tranquilize the now hefty cubs and transport them to remote locations in the province.
Only a lucky few orphaned bruins get this second chance; most are euthanized because they were discovered after they had become habituated to human handouts.
No one is really sure why so many cubs were orphaned this year.
Some of the mothers are killed by hunters, even though shooting a bear with cubs is illegal, others are hit by cars or trains.
There is also a theory that the scarcity of berries caused by last summer’s unusually hot dry weather might have caused some of the mothers to abandon their young. Although some biologists doubt this is the case.
On Thursday, 14 of the 32 Critter Cares cubs were released.
Normally there is a resting period for the staff and volunteers once last year’s cubs are all gone. But not this year. New orphans have already started to arrive, including two tiny cubs discovered with their eyes still closed.
Visit Critter’s Care website for more information on how to help.