A trio of orphaned black bear cubs have been rescued by Manitoba conservation officers after residents in the Gilbert Plains, Man., area alerted them to the animals’ presence.
The province said the cubs were spotted wandering for several days and weren’t likely to survive on their own.
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With the help of local residents, the cubs were captured safely and moved to the Black Bear Rescue Manitoba rehab facility in Stonewall.
Owner Judy Stearns says they’ll take care of the cubs until they’re big enough to manage on their own, and will release them sometime before winter sets in.
“Because bears know how to den on their own intuitively and we get them to the size of yearlings, if not two-year-olds in some cases, by the fall they have the same protections against predators as they would have when their mother kicks them out normally,” said Stearns.
She adds they prepare the cubs for hibernation by reducing their food in October. They hibernate not long after being released, and by the time they emerge in spring, they’re where they would be under normal circumstances.
“So much of what bears need to do to survive is intuitive and they don’t have to be taught,” Stearns said.
All of the bears released by Black Bear Rescue Manitoba are collared with a GPS tracker to keep an eye on where they end up and how they do. The group’s Facebook page has plenty of information and opportunities to donate to the cause.
Stearns says the cubs’ release is done in conjunction with and approved by Manitoba Conservation; typically in remote areas far from humans.
Manitoba Conservation was unable to determine if the cubs’ mother had been poached, as the body had been picked over by scavengers by the time officers arrived.
The season for hunting black bears in the area around Gilbert Plains ends on June 14, so it’s unclear whether or not the bear would have been killed in season, but regardless, it’s a crime in Manitoba to kill a female bear with a cub.
In an email statement, the province says if poaching were the case, it would likely be referred to the court. If the perpetrator was found to be without a license as well, they’d be facing a minimum fine of $675 and a two-year hunting suspension.
In a separate incident, Conservation officers are looking for the person or persons responsible for killing a female black bear and two of her three cubs in the same area where the other cubs were found.
Conservation says the incident happened the afternoon of June 9th near Gilbert Plains, one mile east of town on road 128 West on the South side of PTH #5.
Anyone who sees orphaned or injured wildlife is encouraged to call their local Manitoba Conservation and Climate office or the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-782-0076.