Baby bear rescued near Tofino after mother dies

“The little cub was laying on its mother.”

Bear Cub Rescue Tofino from The Whale Centre on Vimeo.

A team of local wildlife watching guides fastened a happy ending onto a heartbreaking situation over the weekend by rescuing a tiny baby black bear that was stubbornly refusing to leave its dead mother’s side.

John Forde and Jennifer Steven co-own The Whale Centre in Tofino and, when the husband and wife team received a report of a bear cub hanging around a deceased adult bear in Ross Pass on Friday, they immediately headed out to investigate, discovering the tragic scene around 5 p.m.

“We got up there and the little cub was hanging around the mom and was a little too skittish and spooked and went up to the top of one of the trees,” Forde told the Westerly News.

He said he and Steven returned for another rescue effort early Saturday morning.

“The little cub was laying on its mother. Jen dropped me on the rocks a little ways away and I snuck around and slowly went up and, this time, she didn’t run away. She actually went back and used [her] mom as protection and I was able to capture her and carry her back down and onto the boat,” he said.

“It was a tiny little cub. Probably three to four months old, so really small, but still big claws and teeth and all the rest of that…It sort of growled and complained at first and then clawed onto me and just held on and I was able to get a hold of it and get her back. It was pretty cool.”

He said he knew if he could not grab the cub, it would not survive the wild on its own.

“All I wanted to do was be super calm and not spook it, so that I had the chance to capture it because I knew that, if I couldn’t get a hold of this bear, if it kept eluding me, it was going die up there. It would have no other hope to survive,” he said. “That’s all I was thinking. I wasn’t really concerned about anything else. I had thick gloves and long sleeve jacket on so I wasn’t too concerned…but when it started crawling up onto my back, I was just going, ‘Oh man, don’t bite me now.”

In a blog posted to The Whale Centre’s website, Steven recalled the young bear’s distress.

“It was screaming. My heart was breaking listening to its screams but I knew this was its only chance to survive,” she wrote.

The bear was brought back to Tofino and handed over to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service in Port Alberni, which then took it to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington where it will be raised with the intent of releasing it back into the wild in about two years, according to Forde.

He said it was the first time he had ever handled a bear and he was happy to help give this one a chance at survival.

“It just makes your heart glow. It makes you feel like you’re doing something good in this world especially with all the bad things out there,” he said. “It’s just part of my nature to do that. I’ve always felt close to animals and wildlife. A poor helpless little thing like that; I’m not one to just sit back and not help. That’s not me.”

He added the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre plans to release the bear back to where it was rescued from and he encourages locals to look into the organization and consider donating.

“They’re making a difference,” he said. “Everybody moves out here because they enjoy the wildness and the wilderness and these guys are doing a good thing to help animals out.”

Trevor Chester, an Animal Care Technician with North Island Recovery Centre, told the Westerly News Monday morning that the bear is doing well, but is malnourished.

“It was definitely underweight when it came in. We’re not sure how long it’s mom had passed away, but its definitely underweight so it’s been a lone for some time at least. So that’s the situation we have right now,” he said adding the small animal is being fed a special milk-formula designed for bear cubs.

“The care is a little bit more hands-on, at least at first. But, we want to get them away from us as soon as possible so that they don’t become habituated…We want to get them on their own as soon as possible so that we don’t have to be physically feeding them and so they don’t think that we’re ‘mom.’ The sooner we can get them eating on their own, the better. That’s the goal. Then we can lead them on their own and they can start learning to be a bear.”

He said the centre hopes to release the bear back into the wild in about a year-and-a-half.

“That’s about how long they would stay with mom until they’re on their own in the wild. So that’s generally how long they stay here until they’re old enough to be able to fend for themselves,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tofino-Ucluelet region rallies around injured five-month-old puppy

A Hitacu puppy is home and healing after being struck by a vehicle in Hitacu

Storm season expected to arrive in Tofino-Ucluelet on Tuesday

Environment Canada has issued a storm warning for the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Ucluelet chamber of commerce searching for new executive director

“Lara did a phenomenal job and we will really miss her.”

Offleash dogs put shorebirds resting on Tofino beaches in jeopardy

“It’s a free-for-all. Most of the violators are locals, I believe, but there are visitors as well.”

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Nanaimo RCMP shut down illegal racing and stunt driving site

Police “swoop in” to seize vehicles and issue violation tickets

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Most Read