A rescued orphan bear cub that was found on Westside Road just south of Invermere and flown to a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Smithers last week passed away on Friday (June 1) evening, much to the sorrow of staff at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) shelter.

Local elementary students who were anticipating giving the cub a name for the duration of its stay at the centre and following its progress until its planned release next spring will also be sadly disappointed.

Invermere conservation officer Greg Kruger said staff at the centre immediately had concerns due to its small size and dehydrated state when the baby bear arrived at their facility Wednesday (May 30).

“Right away they could see there was an issue with the cub,” Kruger  said. The staff member he spoke to said if they could pull the cub through the weekend, then it would survive.

“Then I got the call Friday evening that it had passed away.”

The baby male black bear was estimated to have been ten to twelve weeks old and had been on its own for approximately two weeks prior to being captured, according to Kruger.

“I had a good feeling because it was doing quite well and had lots of fight in it when we caught it,” Kruger said. “I was pretty optimistic when it was on the plane and heading up there and made it to the facility.”

“I thought it had a really, really good chance.”

After its arrival at the centre, a veterinarian reassessed the cub and confirmed it likely had liver failure or some other internal issue due to it having been on its own for so long  as a very young animal needing the nutrients from its mother’s milk.

“It just kept deteriorating until it succumbed to its condition Friday evening,’ Kruger said.

“It would have been great if we could have, a year later, had it come back,” he said, “but it is what it is — A for effort.”