Out of tragedy came a very happy ending for three bear cubs who were rescued in the Golden area after their mother was killed by a vehicle.
On Sept. 4 Wendy Chambers, a local bear activist and volunteer with the Northern Lights Wildlife Society based in Smithers B.C., received a heart-stopping phone call.
“I was told that there had been an incident with a female black bear on the highway near to my home, and that unfortunately she had lost her life,” said Chambers. “But there were four cubs grieving over her body at the side of the road.”
The incident had already been called into the RAPP line, and the local conservation officer was aware of the situation. When Chambers arrived on the scene, the mother bear had already been removed.
She spotted one of the cubs, however, running around on the highway.
“I managed to chase the cub to a nearby tree and up into it,” said Chambers. And when she did, she discovered that the cub’s three siblings were already in the tree.
With the conservation officer two hours away, Chambers knew she had to keep the cubs in the tree until he arrived. She banged sticks on the tree any time they tried to come down. That was no easy task considering these little bears continued to perform their bodily functions with Chambers down below them.
“That did not concern me at the time, my concern was to keep these babies safe,” she said.
During that time she fell in love with them, and was even able to pick up on their individual personalities. One was apparently devastated by the day’s event, and wouldn’t stop crying, while another was calm enough to take a nap on the branches.
“After about one and half hours my wonderful husband arrived with transport crates and helped me keep these little ones in the tree,” said Chambers.
The conservation officer arrived and after assessing the situation began sedating the bears. The first two bears were fortunately well positioned in the tree, and did not fall, however the third one fell hard and ended up down the steep embankment. She didn’t survive the fall.
“I have to admit that was one of the hardest moments I have ever experienced,” said Chambers, who held the cub in her arms as she passed away.
“But we had another cub to save.”
The last cub took a few tries, as she was near the top of the tree. But with the help of some volunteers, they were able to catch her in a tarp as she fell.
By the time the cubs were all safely sleeping in their crates, Chambers had been on scene for nearly six hours. However her day was not over yet. The three surviving cubs needed to get to Smithers where the Northern Lights Wildlife Society could care for them. A truck was waiting for them in Kamloops, but Chambers and her husband had to get them that far.
The NLWS was a great option for these cubs, and the best shot at giving them a good future says Chambers.
“I volunteer for NLWS because of their high standards, total dedication and never-ending compassion,” she said. They are the organization who rehabilitated young Tika, a grizzly cub who was found near Golden two years ago in winter. Tika regained strength with NLWS, but was sadly hit and killed by a vehicle near Invermere after being rereleased.
“I am proud to be part of their team and will continue to support them for the rest of my days.”