Conservation officers hope the public will help save two bear cubs’ lives by staying away from Rivers Trail near the Cinnamon Ridge compost site on Tranquille Road.
The fragile black bear cubs and their mother are safely tucked away along the bank of Kamloops Lake in a grove of poplar trees. But a recent conflict between a trail user and the sow has conservation officers fearing they may have to relocate the bears if the public doesn’t stay away.
That could spell the end for the cubs.
“We can’t tranquilize them — that would kill them,” said conservation officer Steve Wasylik. “It’s really hard on the cubs to move them. They often die in transit. They just don’t have the ability to survive that sort of thing.”
Around midday Thursday, a man and his dog were walking the trail when he unknowingly passed by the bears’ domain, causing the sow to rush him, said Wasylik.
“The bear came up from over the bank beside the lake, came at him quite quickly, closed the distance to him within about 100, 150 yards and stopped and then just stood there.”
The man was able to get his dog and back away toward a secure location near a fence. That’s when he saw the cubs.
“She’s just being a good mother protecting her cubs,” said Wasylik.
The young ones are this season’s births, so they’re not much bigger than an average housecat.
The sow chose the perfect spot to protect her cubs during breeding season from larger males that would kill the babies to breed with the mother, said Wasylik.
“It’s very good bear habitat. You’ve got great open fields for her to feed in, a good food source for her. And the poplar trees, the cubs can get up out of sight and sow can get up and sleep up in the middle, too, so it’s just a good place for the bear.”
The conservation office has erected signs warning trail users of the nearby bear. Anyone who must pass the area should keep dogs on leashes.
With some luck, hot valley weather will soon drive the family into higher country where it’s cooler, said Wasylik.
But how long that will take is anyone’s guess.
“She didn’t appear to be leaving the area and in talking to the workers of the compost site, she’s been there for quite a while.”