Two orphaned bear cubs were rescued June 15, 2020, from Skagit Valley, after their mother was shot by a hunter two days prior. They were turned over to Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley, where they spent the last year learning how to be wild bears before being released earlier this month. (Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee photo)

Two orphaned bear cubs were rescued June 15, 2020, from Skagit Valley, after their mother was shot by a hunter two days prior. They were turned over to Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley, where they spent the last year learning how to be wild bears before being released earlier this month. (Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee photo)

Orphaned bear cubs released into wild after a year in wilderness rehab

After their mother was shot, the cubs were raised by a wildlife rescue until big enough for release

After a year of wilderness rehab, two orphaned black bear cubs were released back into the wild after they were rescued late last spring when a hunter shot and killed their mother nearby.

“They were sent to Critter Care for rehabilitation like all cubs (rescued) in this area,” explained Lydia Koot, who not only participated in the rescue, but is also an active member of the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee.

Earlier this month, nearly a year to the day since their rescue, the twin yearlings were given a final veterinary check-up before being released back into what’s hopefully safe and sound surroundings.

“They may stay together for a few days and then split up,” Koot continued. “Or, they may come back together to hibernate. (We) don’t know exactly what they do (because) they’re quite solitary (in the wild). Moms with cubs are the only (bear) groups we typically see.”

However, these two cubs were radio-collared, “so we can, of course, then say quite (effectively) where they go. Usually it’s just a guessing game.” This brings the total number of collared black bear yearlings in the province to five.

READ MORE: Cubs rescued, hunter fined after sow shot in Skagit Valley

“They were very chunky, had a good coat, and were very healthy,” said Nathan Wagstaffe, a Critter Care senior wildlife technician.

Named Remi and Reema, the siblings were male/female twins, and as such, were rehabilitated in the same enclosure along with two other cubs of similar size. When a single bear enclosure costs more than $150,000 to build, sometimes the bear cubs have to share accommodations.

“It costs more than $100 a day to rehab these bears,” Wagstaffe said, adding the wildlife rescue was currently rehabbing three bear cubs rescued in the Eastern Fraser Valley.

But “they’re just little at 40-pounds or so,” he continued, whereas Remi and Reema were about 200-pounds when released, which went without a hitch.

“They ran straight into the forest when released, and we hope they’ll live a long, happy life there,” said Wagstaffe.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@hopestandard.com

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