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Black bear rescuer urges people to put bird feeders away after 3 cubs orphaned

A rehabilitation centre for black bears is warning Manitobans to put away their bird feeders after three cubs were orphaned when their mother tried to get into a house in Pinawa and was shot by the homeowner.

Two of the three cubs were brought in to Black Bear Rescue Manitoba on Friday and the third is still missing.

According to Manitoba Conservation, a higher than normal number of incidents involving black bears are being reported this summer and the most common cause is bird feeders, which attract them.

“Once bears get a taste of the bird seed they’re gonna hang around especially if you keep filling the feeder,” said Judy Stearn, the owner of Black Bear Rescue Manitoba.

“If it’s preventable that a female doesn’t have to be shot then we’d much prefer that, for the cub’s sake.”

Although the bear cubs are healthy, Stearn says they’re quite agitated to be indoors and without their mother.

“There’s a lot of stress and mental suffering for them. One of the little cubs from Pinawa [has] just been bawling all morning,” she said. 

“She’s got food and water [but] we can’t comfort a little bear cub like that, so it’s distressing for them.”

These two siblings aren’t the only bear cubs the rescue took in on Friday. It’s also caring for a third from the Richer area, which was picked up on its own.

“She’s handling it quite well,” Stearn said.

That cub has two siblings out there that will also be picked up and cared for until they’re ready to be released into the wild.

Stearn says the rescue is currently caring for 15 bear cubs.

Be bear smart

Manitoba Conservation says there are a number of things people can do to reduce potentially dangerous interactions with bears.

First, put the bird feeders away.

Bird feeders can attract bears, and Black Bear Rescue Manitoba is asking people to put them away, especially in the summer. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

“Bird seed can attract bears as well as birds, and with other food sources plentiful for birds in the summer months, people are asked to put feeders away until later in the fall,” Manitoba Conservation said in a news release late last month.

On top of that, Manitobans can do other things to protect bears and themselves.

  • Don’t feed them.
  • Leash dogs when walking outside.
  • Store garbage in a bear-resistant container or inside.
  • Secure compost piles.
  • Allow barbecue grills to burn for about two minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odours, plus clean grease traps after each use.
  • Feed pets inside.
  • Use electric fences to secure chicken coops and bee hives.

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