Baby bear found orphaned near Chemainus finds comfort in ‘same size’ stuffed animal


What happened to the mother of a tiny orphaned black bear that was rushed to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre over the weekend is a mystery. But her cub is considered one lucky bruin.

At just six pounds, the cub was found so skinny and dehydrated that it could be picked up right from the roadside in Copper Canyon near Chemainus.

It was curled up, but now it’s in safe hands and recovering.

“It needed to get into care because it’s only about six pounds. It probably should be about double that at this point,” said NIWRA animal care supervisor Derek Downes.

Downes has helped rescue dozens of orphaned cubs in years past.

Now, they’re feeding the months-old cub a special meal of pablum and milk replacer by spoon to start with before leaving it with a bowl and bear stuffy that acts as a fill-in sibling for comfort.

“A bear stuffy actually almost the same size as this little one,” Downes told CHEK News on Tuesday.

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This is the first cub admitted to NIWRA in 2024, and it arrives as bear activity and sightings rise across Vancouver Island.

Just Monday, a bear wandered into backyards in Sidney and was safely tranquillized. While in Port McNeill on Monday, Libby Waldner got a huge surprise outside her kitchen, when an unexpected guest came for dinner.

“For all our sake and the bear’s sake, make sure we’re stopping attractants from being available to them,” said Downes.

“They’re out there with their noses, and they’re really, really trying to find any bit of food that they can. They’re foraging six to eight hours through the day trying to find any little bit of food.”

NIWRA averages about five orphaned cubs coming in each year, and if all goes well, they are released into the wild two years later. That is the plan for nine now grown-up bear cubs next week.

“We have nine cubs that are getting ready to be released in the next little bit, and the new cubs are starting to come in, so it’s full circle,” said Downes.

Despite the rough start in life, the tiny orphaned black bear cub is expected to make a full recovery and soon be joined by other real baby bears to keep it company.

READ PREVIOUS: Conservation officers tranquillize black bear in Sidney after several sightings Monday

Skye Ryan

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