Man who took wild bear cubs to a Grand Forks motel may face charges

‘They’ll never have the chance to be bears,’ said Conservation Officer Mark Walkoksy

Conservation Service Officers in Grand Forks are considering Wildlife act charges after two bear cubs were recently taken from a logging road north of the city.

Conservation officer Mark Walkosky said the cubs, now at an accredited wildlife facility, would likely be with their mother had it not been for the well-intentioned but misguided actions of a man who took the bears from their natural habitat. They would likely have a poor chance of survival if they were returned to the wild, he said.

The roughly 50-day-old male black bears were spotted on March 24, after Walkosky and forest ministry biologists believe road work disturbed the bears’ den, roughly 23 kilometres up Lynch Creek forest service road. Thinking the cubs had been abandoned, Waslkosky said the road crew waited for roughly two hours for the mother bear to return. When the sow didn’t turn up, Walkosky said a crew member drove the cubs to his motel in Grand Forks, where the animals spent the night.

Conservation Service Officer Mark Walkosky is warning residents never to approach wildlife on their own. Anyone who thinks they’ve seen an animal in distress should immediately call the 24 hr RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277, he said. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Conservation Service Officer Mark Walkosky is warning residents never to approach wildlife on their own. Anyone who thinks they’ve seen an animal in distress should immediately call the 24 hr RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277, he said. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Walkosky soon met the man and the animals at the motel, following a report to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline. Fresh tracks left at the den site the next morning suggested that the mother bear and a third cub had come back overnight. Walkosky explained that mother bears are known to leave their cubs alone for up to a day at a time, repeatedly stressing that only qualified professionals should approach wild animals, regardless of age.

Watching from trail cameras left at the scene, Conservation and forest ministry biologists then left the cubs near their den for around 48 hours, hoping the mother bear would come back again. She didn’t.

The bears have been put in the care of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, where co-founder and manager Angelika Langen said they are happily putting on weight. The bears will be re-introduced to the wild next June, likely near where they were found, she said.

Langen said she was hopeful that the bears would re-adjust to the wild, but Walkosky was less optimistic.

“They’ll never have the chance to be bears,” he said, adding, “They won’t get trained by a mom about where to find food and security in the forest.”

Re-introduced bears can make it in the wild but their chances of survival are generally much lower than bears who grow up with their moms, he noted.

Walksoksy also warned that approaching wild bear cubs can be very dangerous.

“If someone decides that they want to handle a bear cub, there’s always the very real possibility that the sow is nearby, watching,” he said.

Mother bears won’t hesitate to maul humans they perceive as threatening their cubs, which Walkosky said has killed people in the past.

The man who took the bears fully cooperated with investigators, but could face a $230 fine for unlawful possession of wildlife under the provincial Wildlife act.

The Conservation Service Office strongly recommends that people leave wildlife well enough alone. Anyone who thinks they may have come across an animal in distress is asked to call the 24-hour RAPP hotline at 1-877-952-7277.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bearsGrand Forks

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

Just Posted

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Police are advising of a scam actively happening in the Kootenay Boundary, one that involves a person trying to sell the victim gold for cash. Problem is, the gold is fake. Photo: Matt Flores on Unsplash
Fake gold scam re-surfaces in the Kootenay Boundary

Victims are approached in high-traffic areas by someone claiming to need emergency cash

Giant prize-winning pumpkins and squash are standard fare at the Pass Creek Fall Fair. Photo: Betsy Kline
Pass Creek Fall Fair cancelled for 2021

Event cancelled for second time

File photo
Help clean up Castlegar during Pitch-In week

Annual clean-up to take place April 18 - 26

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

Most Read