B.C. wildlife centre releases record number of bear cubs back into wild

It’s been a busy year, but after nursing nearly 32 orphaned bear cubs back to health, the Critter Care Wildlife Society is releasing a record number back into the wild.

Rehabilitating and releasing these cubs is a big job, but for the Langley, B.C. facility, it’s worth it. According to reports, few cubs are lucky enough to get a second chance—even after they’re rescued. That’s because the orphaned cubs are often found habituated, and once a bear loses its natural fear of humans, it’s seen as a threat and is often euthanized.

Luckily that wasn’t the case for these cubs, and on Thursday, five of the 32 staying at Critter Care were released. Another nine are expected to leave the facility this spring.

“I love seeing them go, and knowing that they’re going to be free. It’s a fun day,” Critter Care’s senior animal care supervisor, Angela Fontana, told Global News.

The centre released the bears with the help of conservation officers, who tranquilize the now-heavy bears and help transport them into a remote region of the province near Chehalis Lake.

“There are about three or four mountain ranges, so for a bear to return it would have to travel a long way,” conservation officer Jack Trudgian told reporters. The hope is that the bears will stay in that region, though Trudgian says it’s hard to know whether or not the cubs will survive their second chance in the wild. The point of Critter Care’s work is that they’re getting one.

According to Global News, Critter Care wasn’t the only facility bombarded with orphaned cubs this winter, though no one is completely certain why numbers were so high. Some believe a combination of poachers and drivers killing mother bears could be the culprit.

But after successfully making it through the busy winter, it doesn’t look like Critter Care’s staff or volunteers will be getting much reprieve. This year’s orphan cubs have already begun arriving, including two that are so young their eyes are still closed. It’s the same story at Northern Lights Wildlife Society, which is currently dealing with a record number of orphaned bear cubs for this time of year.