A young black bear cub is resting and recuperating at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) in Smithers after surviving on bait from a trapper’s line near Nakusp.
The 10 to 11 month old cub was discovered by the trapper after he had noticed the bait on his lines kept disappearing. Upon discovering what was eating the bait, he called the NLWS, who advised him to let conservation officers know about the situation.
When the officers found the cub, they assessed that it was eligible for rehabilitation, they called the society, who arranged for the transport of the cub, who arrived at NLWS on Dec. 14.
The cub, who now bears the name Frankincense, is settling in very well, though he could stand to gain some weight.
Right now he’s 26 lbs., while the average bear of the same age weighs between 50-60 lbs.
“He definitely has some growing and weight gaining to do, but he seems to be fully committed to that,” said Angelika Langen, co-founder of NLWS. “Hopefully by the spring he will have caught up to the other bears that are hibernating right now, and be the same size and will be able to be released.”
In order to ensure Frankincense stays healthy, he’s under quarantine for the next six weeks. Staff at NLWS want to make sure he doesn’t have any disease or parasite that might pop up during this time. If nothing shows up, he will be moved into the group and will be released in the spring.
Before being packed up and taken to his release site, he will be tagged, microchipped, and tattooed.
“It allows us a positive identification when we put him into the group,” said Langen. “Once they’re being released, if they should get into trouble, or if at some later point they get hunted, these kind of identifications should ensure that we get notified. Even if he does lose the ear tag, the microchip will still be there and the tattoo will still be there.”
There are currently 44 bears at NLWS, including one grizzly bear. Of that number, 14 are from the Kootenay region, coming from areas like Nakusp, New Denver, Castlegar, Trail, Silverton, and Winlaw.
Because transporting the bears back to their region adds up, NLWS is hosting a fundraiser to help with the costs.
“We need some more transport boxes, and then there is the cost of driving, gas, insurance and all these kinds of things,” said Langen. “It adds up really quickly.”
To help raise money, the society is lighting up a large pine tree in front on the Smithers Feed Store. For every $20 donation the society receives, they put up a light on the tree until they reach the top.
“We’re about two-thirds of the way to the top, so we still have a little bit to go, but it’s been a fun couple of weeks trying to fill up the tree with lights,” said Langen.
The fundraiser goes until Christmas Eve.