A few of the malnourished bear cubs taken in by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre last fall are now set to be released back into the wild in the next few weeks.
“They are big and healthy now and are ready to get out there,” said assistant manager with the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association, Julie Mackey.
The NIWRA currently has nine cubs and one resident adult bear.
The bears to be released are all from the North Island, Mackey said, and conservation officers will choose an undisclosed location, far from people, to release them in the coming weeks.
Making sure the bears stay wild and afraid of humans is part of the NIWRA’s program, Mackey said, so the bears don’t look to them as a food source once released.
She said at the centre staff spend minimal time with the bears, do not stay with them when being fed and even pipe in noises so the bears don’t hear them, all the while monitoring them from closed circuit television.
Although there have been some bear attacks in the news recently, Mackey said this has never been an issue with bears released from the centre.
She said if the bears arrive with behavior problems the centre is unfit to deal with, they are euthanized, as was the case with an aggressive bear they received last winter. Often the bears that arrive at the centre are young however, she said, making it less likely they will have aggressive tendencies.
The two young cubs the centre received in May are doing very well, Mackey said, but won’t be old enough to be released until next year.
Caring for the bears is expensive work, about $40 day and the NIWRA greatly appreciates any donations the public can provide. The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre can be visited daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30p.m., where eagles, several species of owls, falcons, hawks, ravens and black bears can be seen. The centre is located at 1240 Leffler Rd. in Errington.
For more information visit www.niwra.org or call 250-248-8534.