We have quite a story to tell!

We have quite a story to tell!

The call came in early in the morning, a mother black bear had been killed by a truck collision and left 2 cubs behind, would we come and rescue them? Come where was my answer? Manson Creek was the reply. Where in the world is Manson Creek?

It turns out it is quite a ways from Smithers and I am thinking by the time we get there, who knows where those cubs are. But the caller, Mike McKone, insists that him and his workers will  keep an eye on them until we get there, he also states they have equipment to climb a tree if needed. Seems like there is a lot of dedication on the other end, so Peter and I pack up and off we go once again. The trip to Fort Saint James (about 4 hours) is pretty eventless.

Now we “only” have 185km left. According to Mike’s partner Lu McKone it’s pretty straight forward turn right at the fist T and left at the second and then we find it easy. Well let’s put it this way there are a lot more rights and lefts and when you drive a rough logging road in the middle of nowhere you start questioning “are we still going the right way?”. After 3 (towards the end pretty nerve-wracking ) hours we finally come upon some signs that point to Manson Creek. Our welcome there is warm and super friendly. Mike and Lu are so very nice. Off we go again to the cubs location and now we worry about descending darkness and apparently a female grizzly that is looking for an easy meal.

Arriving at the accident site we meet two of Mikes Crew Daniel (Danny) Teichroeb and Sean Anderson. When inquiring about the cubs, they state that they haven’t seen them all day. The last sighting was early in the morning. Peter and I look at each other and think the same thing, well, that was a long trip for nothing. But Mike is full of contagious positive energy, he is certain we can find them. So I scramble down a steep hill, with lots of snags and underbrush and even more mosquitos and biting flies in a long shot attempt to locate two cubs that are being pursued by a grizzly. I learned a long time ago to listen and so I sit down and do just that.

As time slips away and it gets darker and the insect bites are no fun at all, I suddenly hear what I have been hoping for, the (at least to me) very distinct sound of little claws scrambling up tree bark. I turn my head in that direction and a few 100 meters downhill, high up in an old dead tree I look directly into a cubs face.  Boy my heart rate accelerated at phenomenal speed as I alerted the others. We all meet under the old tree looking up at two pretty exhausted looking cubs that stare fearfully down at us. Climbing dead trees is a dangerous undertaking and though Danny makes an attempt to go up, the fearful cubs just shoot way to the top and out of reach in a heartbeat. Now it’s almost totally dark and there is no way we can get the cubs this evening.

With a worried heard, as we can hear the grizzly in the bushes, we retreat. Danny promises to check on them and we all catch some much needed sleep.

Upon our early morning return, we find Danny under the same tree, reporting happily that both cubs are still there. But they look even worse now. Despite safety concerns, Danny once again tries to climb the tree, he is going slow motion and the cubs watch him tiredly. Just as he gets into reach of my tranquilizer pole, one cub once again shoots up the tree out of reach. But the second cub seems to tired to move and with a long reach Danny can poke him.

However our cheer is cut short as with his last strength this cub too shoots up the tree out of reach for Danny to catch him as he falls asleep. We all watch in horrified fascination as the cub loses his grip and starts falling out of the tree.

Peter and Mike have a blanket ready, but as he falls, he bounces from branch to branch, changing directions constantly and in the end misses the blanket by a few centimetres. We are all worried, but a short examination shows no apparent broken bones and his breathing is even and regularly. After much debate, we move the cub up closer towards the road and secure him in our transport box. We then set up a life trap beside him hoping his sibling can evade the still present grizzly, and come to join his or her brother (the first cub is a male).

Convincing Mike and Danny to leave the site is no easy task, they are really worried about their little charges.  But the second cub will not leave the tree with us there. So we leave for 2 long hours, hoping for the best. Returning I can see from the road that the trap is closed, but I can’t see if something is in it or not.

Once again we scramble downhill and to our immense relief and joy cub #2 (also a male) is sitting there, not looking too pleased with his new accommodation.

We are all ecstatic, to have pulled off this rescue and after both cubs are secured and reunited in the transport box we say Goodbye to the great people at Manson Creek and start the long journey home.

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