Overnight Drive Underway to Save 3 Bella Coola Cubs

By Damian Inwood, The Province October 26, 2010

A Smithers wildlife rescue organizer has set off on a 15-hour, overnight drive to Bella Coola, to make sure a stay of execution for three orphaned grizzly cubs isn’t reversed.

“We have to be there in the morning because the conservation officer’s leaving,” said Angelika Langen, co-founder of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, Tuesday night. “If we’re not there, they’re going to put the bears down. So we’re going to drive all night.”

The three cubs were snared in a culvert trap in Bella Coola Monday night by a local wildlife officer who was trying to catch the mother, said Ian McAllister, conservation director with Pacific Wild.

He said the bears were attracted to a property by the smell of a dead horse, buried by the owner.

“When the officer approached the trap late Monday night, the mother charged him and he shot and wounded her,” said McAllister Tuesday. “Later this morning, using dogs, they found the bear and killed her and they were about to kill the three cubs as well.”

He said that “saner heads” prevailed and Langen was contacted in Smithers, where she runs a government-approved rehab centre for black bears and grizzlies.

Langen said the centre already has two young grizzlies, aged about nine months and weighing about 45 kilograms, that she rescued from Bella Coola a few weeks ago.

“That time, we flew down but the weather is so bad they couldn’t guarantee we could make it in and out,” said Langen.

She said she and her husband Peter were spelling each other off, driving for 15 hours.

Northern Lights runs a pilot project rehabilitating grizzly bears and has, so far, successfully released four cubs back into the wild in the past two years, said Langen.

She said the three newest cubs will be transferred into another culvert trap, towed back to Smithers and released into a 10,000-square-foot compound.

“We’ll keep them until next spring,” she said. “They’ll be released somewhere around June and they’ll go back into the Bella Coola region, but not close to town where the problem occurred.”

She said having five grizzly cubs will be an interesting challenge.

“They are big eaters,” she chuckled.

The cubs would normally still be nursing but, without a mother, they’ll drink milk from a bowl.

“We’ll avoid having close contact with them, at their age,” she said.

dinwood@theprovince.com

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/Overnight+drive+underway+save+three+Bella+Coola+grizzly+cubs/3730942/story.html#ixzz13xTrirkD

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