Stonewall bear rescue takes care of highest number of cubs in its history

There’s Izzy, Juniper, Jolene, Jasper, Karla, Koda and two yet-to-be-named bear cubs. 

They’ve all been taken in recently by Black Bear Rescue Manitoba, which is caring for the highest number of cubs in its history after taking in another pair last week. 

The rescue, located near Stonewall, Man., takes in orphaned cubs, rehabilitates them and prepares them for a fall release.

Last year, Judy and Roger Stearns — the Stonewall couple who care for the bears and are co-founders of the rescue —looked after seven cubs with the help of volunteers. 

This year, they already have eight in their care, including two taken in last week by Manitoba conservation officers. 

One of the newest black bears cubs currently in the care of a Manitoba wildlife rescue group. (Black Bear Rescue Manitoba/Facebook)

The two newest cubs were brought in by Manitoba conservation officers. (Black Bear Rescue Manitoba/Facebook)

The cubs were spotted by a landowner in a field near Minnedosa, with ravens circling overhead and a missing mother who did not return, said Julie Woodyer, the spokesperson for Black Bear Rescue Manitoba. 

The cubs are still pretty tiny, each weighing less than seven pounds, she said, but are in good health. 

“They’re quite assertive, these ones, because they were already out of the den and had some time with their mom, unlike some of the previous ones that we got,” Woodyer said. 

The rescue also took in a pair of cubs at the end of March, after their den was destroyed by a piece of heavy equipment. Their mother and a sibling were killed, Woodyer said. 

Those two are Karla and Koda. 

The rescue has named this bear cub Karla. She was brought in with her little sister, named Koda, at the end of March. (Facebook/Black Bear Rescue Manitoba)

“I think that’s one message I’d like to get out there is that sometimes bears will actually den very near the surface or just underneath the snow,” she said. 

“It’s very easy to disturb, to disrupt them at that time of year.”

The cubs that come in together tend to stick together at first, but eventually, once they get to know each other and are old enough to be let into the rescue’s outdoor enclosure, they all start to play together, Woodyer said. 

“That’s a really exciting time, because they get out there and they start climbing and just investigating all the different areas,” she said. 

“And that’s when we start hiding food around the enclosure so that they get into every little nook and cranny and start to learn some of the skills they’re going to need to forage when they get back to the wild.”

Right now, the rescue has a fundraiser called 30 smiles for $30 — the daily cost of feeding the bears — that involves posting photos of the cubs on their Facebook page while collecting donations.

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