Bear cub downtown causes stir

People gathered around to take pictures of the cute but emaciated cub, who was climbing up several of the sidewalk trees

A bear cub found its way into the downtown core last week.

A bear cub wandering around downtown Grand Forks on Monday afternoon drew quite a crowd.

People gathered around to take pictures of the cute but emaciated cub, who was climbing up several of the sidewalk trees. The cub then went from Second Street up Market Avenue and climbed another tree in front of Jogas Espresso Cafe. Just before 5 p.m. local conservation officer Dave Webster and an RCMP officer brought the cub in and it was eventually put down.

“I was able to catch it with a snare and put it in a dog crate,” said Webster. “It left that tree (in the alley by the laundromat) and went back to the dumpster. There was some garbage spread around. It was completely habituated on garbage.”

Webster said the cub was very undersized and had to be euthanized. He said the cub should have been with its mother and learning how to survive.

“He’s a cub of this year so he should be with a mother,” said Webster. “He hasn’t been with a sow for three months. This time of the year the sow would have him denned up. He doesn’t know what to do. I could have done what I did or he could’ve gradually starved to death eating out of people’s dumpsters in downtown Grand Forks. That was the option.”

Webster said that sending the cub to a rehabilitation centre (such as Northern Lights in Smithers) would not be a viable solution either.

“They call them rehab centres but they take them and feed them for six months to a year and then they let them go and they end up causing problems somewhere else,” he said. “We had two bears recently rehabbed, and I use that term loosely, in the Vernon/Kelowna area released and they had to be put down almost immediately after being released because they were trying to break into people’s homes.”

Webster added that he had had several other complaints of the same cub trying to get to garbage and chewing on door frames and access buildings.

Webster said that this has been a difficult year for bears with the fires and the drought. “We had a bad year for them,” he said. “When you get these bears that have been orphaned, they’re just trying to make it as best they can. Without mom there to look after them and feed them, they have a rough road ahead.”