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Volunteers rescue bear cub

Gremlin doing well in Langley animal shelter
Kyle Wells

A baby bear that arrived at a couple’s house in Lang Bay on Christmas Day is now in the care of a wildlife shelter in Langley after being trapped and transported by Powell River SPCA.

On the morning of Christmas Day, Deborah Diduck and Bill Snyder looked outside their window to see a bear cub licking bird seed off the ground. The cub looked small and malnourished and the couple did not see the cub’s mother. Concerned about its well-being, the couple fed the bear and waited to see if its mother would arrive.

They named the bear Gremlin after their dog who had passed away during the summer. Bears used to steal Gremlin the dog’s food, so the couple thought the name was appropriate.

After it became clear the mother wasn’t coming, Gremlin was captured in a raccoon trap by SPCA volunteers the morning of New Year’s Day and flown to Vancouver to spend the rest of the winter at Critter Care Wildlife Society’s facility in Langley. Pacific Coastal Airlines flew Gremlin for free. Gremlin, who turned out to be a female, is less than a year old and weighed 26 pounds when she was captured, about half of where she should be, according to BC Conservation Officer Gerry Lister.

“The SPCA, if it hadn’t been for them I really don’t know what would have happened to that little bear,” said Diduck.

Lister, who was contacted but did not know about the trapping until after the fact, said to the Peak that under normal circumstances he wouldn’t advise anybody  try to capture a bear on his or her own without explicit permission. He understands that the SPCA was able to respond faster than he would have, and is pleased that Gremlin is doing well, but still cautions the public against taking matters into their own hands without permission.

Gremlin is most likely a cub that has been abandoned by her mother in order to allow the rest of the family to survive the winter. Abnormal weather has compromised this year’s food sources for bears, said Lister, and as a result conservation officers are seeing more abandoned bear cubs than usual.

Conservation officers in this region have a policy to capture, assess and send abandoned bear cubs in populated areas away for rehabilitation. Lister understands that there may be some reluctance to inform the authorities about bears, assuming that they will kill them, but Lister said this is not the case unless the bear is unhealthy beyond possible rehabilitation.

Gremlin is doing well in her temporary home, according to reports to the SPCA from Critter Care. In the spring Gremlin will be brought back to the general area in which she was found and released back into the wild.