Skip to main content

Orphaned cub found near death 'thriving' at Manitoba bear rescue


An abandoned bear cub found minutes from death in the Manitoba wilderness is growing stronger by the day at his temporary home at a local bear rescue.

“He’s just thriving,” Judy Stearns, owner of Black Bear Rescue Manitoba (BBRM) told CTV News Winnipeg in a phone interview.

The registered charity got a call about the abandoned black bear cub on Feb. 8. He was found after his den was disturbed near Devil’s Lake, Man., about 70 kilometres southeast of Dauphin.

Stearns believes his mother likely ran away instinctively.

The rescue brought the tired, confused bear into its facility in Stonewall. They estimated him to be about two-and-a-half weeks old, weighing just over a pound at the time.

(Source: Black Bear Rescue Manitoba)

A month into his stay at BBRM, he’s now more than tripled his weight, thanks to a heavy feeding schedule of milk replacement formula.

“It's a lot of work, but he's really a joy to have here. He's just an easy keeper. He's very solid, and he's really fun to be with, so the work is definitely worth it,” she said.

Stearns is not the only one who has fallen for the cub. The rescue posted updates, photos and videos on its social media channels as the bear grew stronger, drawing thousands of comments and likes.

A Good Samaritan also stepped forward to sponsor the bear, and suggested BBRM host an online naming contest so their followers could get in on the fun. Over a thousand people weighed in, with the name Winston winning out in the end.

The cub is also hitting important developmental milestones. A month into his stay at the rescue, he’s opening his eyes and getting on his feet to learn to walk.

(Source: Black Bear Rescue Manitoba)

“He might even be a little ahead of schedule in that he's getting such a good diet here,” Stearns explained.

The plan is to keep the bear and any other cubs brought into the rescue facility until late October, when they’ll be released back into the wild for denning season. Stearns anticipates Winston will have plenty of company as the spring and summer months unfold, as rescue numbers have risen year-over-year, except for 2022.

“We think that just with the reproductive cycle of female bears, because there was maybe a lower birth rate last year, that we're going to be seeing more cubs born this year. Therefore, there’s an increased chance of them being orphaned.”

Each cub costs about $2,000 to raise. Stearns said donations are always welcome to help them deal with the anticipated influx of cubs. More information can be found on BBRM’s Facebook page.

In the meantime, Winston can look forward to another few months exploring his new digs before setting out on a new adventure.

“He's going to be here all summer outside, having fun and playing with his friends - just being a bear.”

- With files from CTV's Dan Vadeboncoeur

At just over a month old, Winston the bear is starting to test out his feet and learn to walk. (Source: Black Bear Rescue Manitoba) Top Stories

Stay Connected