WINNIPEG -- A trio of five-month-old orphaned bear cubs have made it to safety after being rescued in Manitoba’s Gilbert Plains area.

On Thursday, the Manitoba government tweeted the cubs were rescued by residents in the area, as well as Manitoba conservation officers.

Because the cubs were too young to survive on their own, they were brought to Black Bear Rescue Manitoba on June 14.

Judy Stearns, owner and proprietor of the rescue, said when the bears came in, they were a good weight, but covered in burrs.

“I’ve never seen burrs like that before, so that’s kind of their main issue was the burrs,” she said in an interview on Friday.

“They still have some. A lot of them we’ve gotten off.”

Stearns added the bears were quite traumatized, partly because they are wild bears who are not used to captivity, and partly because they’re missing their mother.

“They were quite traumatized,” she said, noting Black Bear Rescue Manitoba believes the bears’ mother was shot dead from the road.

“Very nervous, and they still are very nervous, and they are just starting now to come out of their shell, which is actually taking a long time.”

Though many people think that bear cubs need their mothers to teach them to climb or build a den, Stearns said mother bears are really important because they protect their babies from predators.

“Cubs can find their own food, and they automatically know how to climb and they automatically know how to make a den,” she said.

“Her biggest benefit is protection against predators.”

Stearns added that without a mother, bear cubs run the risk of starvation or wandering into danger.


The three cubs, who have not yet been named, are currently at the rescue, taking part in a two-week quarantine to make sure they’re healthy.

Stearns said at the rescue, they’ve been feeding them throughout the day and trying to remove the burrs when they have the chance.

“Try and just quietly go in to fill their food and water, we have to clean up after them of course,” she said.

After the quarantine ends, they will be brought into enclosures with other bears and stay at the rescue until late October or early November. Shortly after they are released into the wild, the bears will den.

“It’s just intuitive,” Stearns said.

“They know how to make a den. And then they’re tucked away for five months in their den all winter. Safely, no humans are around and the woods are quiet and they can get settled in.”

The bears will come out their dens around mid-April.

Stearns said every year, the rescue is getting more and more bears, which cost about $2,000 each to raise. She also said they put GPS collars on each bear, and the rescue is holding a fundraiser to help cover the costs.​


In a news release on Friday, Manitoba Conservation and Climate warned the public about a higher than usual number of black bear interaction calls in multiple areas in the province.

"Bears are wild animals and must be respected," the province said. "When in bear country, it is best to assume bears are in the vicinity even if no recent conflict or encounters have been reported."

The province said one of the most common causes of bear-human conflict is the presence of bird feeders, and they're aksing residents to keep their feeders away until later in the fall.

"Once a bear is attracted to an area, it can associate that area with food and may return multiple times, which can be dangerous for people, but also for the bear," the province said. "If a bear is identified as a problem animal, the province may have to take steps to trap and relocate it or possibly use lethal force."

If you are out in bear country, the province is reminding people to carry bear deterrent spray and know how to use it. People are also advised to be aware of your surroundings and walk or jog in groups. 

- With files from CTV's Charles Lefebvre