By Andru McCracken
A bear cub rescued from Bailey Road east of Valemount is eating her heart out at the Northern Lights Wildlife Rescue Society in Smithers.
‘Bailey’ was caught on the morning of Monday, December 10 and transported by Angelika and Peter Langen to their rescue centre.
Typically, they tranquilize the bear to sex it and assess its health, but Bailey is too underweight at 25 pounds. A bear cub her age would typically be 50 pounds.
“I’m afraid if I sedate her she won’t wake up again,” said Angelika.
Angelika said Bailey would not have made it through the winter on her own.
“She would have died,” she said.
Her plan is to feed her throughout the winter for release in the spring.
“We’re hoping she is going to be okay. It’s hard to say right now. We can’t get a blood sample,” she said.
There are good signs though, Bailey is eating well and her stool is solid.
Langen said Bailey appears to have had a broken front leg, though she is able to put her full weight on it.
“It’s probably part of why she is so skinny,” she said.
“We will probably take an xray of that leg. It maybe a little twisted, but want to make sure it has healed.”
Angelika said that rehabbed bears have the same survival rate as other bears and have less of a chance of becoming nuisance bears, but a correspondingly greater chance of being preyed upon by other predators.
“We can’t teach them to stay away from a cougar or another bear,” she said, she asserts that they don’t become dependent on humans.
“Post release monitoring shows they eat exactly the same food as the other bears do.”
Not too far from where Bailey was captured, Joyce Banks made a grisly discovery, the pelt of a bear cub was laid out near a path she regularly walks.
She regrets not calling conservation officers at the time, Banks believes that the remains were from Bailey’s sibling. Killing a bear under two years of age is illegal, as is killing a bear with cubs in tow.
Catherine Beeson and Michael Austin two other residents are also frustrated with the lack of information flowing to the conservation service. Together the neighbours are starting a Poacher Watch campaign and will be posting signs with information on how to report poachers.
To report a poacher call the province’s RAPP line: 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or (#7277 on the Telus Mobility Nework).
Residents in the area of Bailey’s neighbourhood are also hoping to encourage hunters to move further afield. Banks and many of her neighbours walk in the region and believe there could be a public safety concern. Recently she met a hunter walking through the area with a gun in hand.
“It doesn’t seem like a smart place to hunt,” said Banks.
As a newcomer she said she didn’t want to rock the boat, but she does have concerns about safety.