Two black bear cubs were rescued last week from around Lac du Bonnet, a town nearly 90 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
Black Bear Rescue Manitoba, the province’s only bear rehabilitation centre, received a cub from Manitoba Conservation on April 28 that was found under a cottage’s deck in Lac du Bonnet, said co-owner Judy Stearns.
Conservation then brought in a second bear cub last weekend, also from Lac du Bonnet, said Stearns.
“They might be related. We don’t know,” she said, but it would take a DNA test to know for certain.
One of the cubs has some blonde on its face, but that doesn’t mean the cubs aren’t related because cubs in the same litter can have different fathers, said Stearns.
It is unknown what happened to the mother, or mothers, of the cubs.
The first cub, named V for now, is about three months old and weighs 4.8 pounds. The second cub weighs five pounds.
Black Bear Rescue Manitoba, located in Stonewall, Man., will take care of the cubs until late October or early November when they will be released back into the wild, said Stearns.
The centre is entering its fourth year of service, but the number of cubs it has cared for has increased each of the previous years. Black Bear Rescue Manitoba cared for three cubs in Year 1, six in Year 2, then 19 last year, said Stearns.
“We have no idea how many cubs are going to end up with this year. But starting now, the phone gets pretty busy with people calling us about their sightings,” she said, noting that mothers come out of their dens around this time of year.
Part of the significant increase last year was because several bears were killed when trying to eat the feed in people’s bird feeders and Black Bear Rescue had to take care of the cubs, said Stearns.
After hibernation, bears are attracted to bird feeders because they’re craving fatty foods like corn, which are in bird feed, she explained.
To avoid that problem, Stearns urges people to put away their bird feeders during the summer.
It’s unlikely the two cubs from Lac du Bonnet lost their mother or mothers because they were shot after approaching a bird feeder, said Stearns. But most bear cubs become orphaned because of human activity.
“Female bears don’t just drop dead or die of a sickness if they were strong enough to have given birth and raising cubs,” she said.