After being hit by a vehicle and knocked unconscious, a three-year-old female black bear was nursed back to health and released back into the wilds of Northern Ontario.
Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre president and authorized wildlife custodian Gloria Morissette doesn’t believe in naming bears out of respect for the wild animals, but if she did, she said “Lucky” would be fitting.
“So many circumstances worked out for her,” she said of the bear that was struck by a vehicle close to Naughton on Highway 17 earlier this month.
The motorist left the scene after colliding with the bear, after which two good Samaritans happened upon the animal with very different ideas about how to help her.
One of these people knew to call Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre volunteers, who came to the scene and loaded the bear into the back of a vehicle to be cared for.
The other good Samaritan had a knife in hand to dispatch the bear, which would have taken place if the other passerby hadn’t arrived in time.
“That was just one very lucky bear the way it happened,” Morissette said, adding that the bear was in rough enough shape that she was loaded into the vehicle unconscious, without incident.
The bear was quickly given anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers. Veterinarian Dr. Morag Maskery looked over the bear and determined that she had suffered severe head trauma.
The creature was largely unresponsive at first, during which her throat had to be stroked in order to get her to swallow fluids. A damp cloth helped keep her protruding tongue moist.
“Over the days, she gradually improved, and by the second day we didn’t have to stroke her throat anymore, she could swallow on her own but couldn’t turn her head,” Morissette said.
The Val Caron-based Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre doesn’t usually take in adult bears, but Morissette said this one was in too poor of shape to make the trip to Sprucedale to be with Mike McIntosh and the Bear With Us Centre for Bears Rehabilitation Facility, as would normally happen.
The bear spent three weeks with the Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre, during which she regained her strength and fattened up. After an assessment by McIntosh to determine she was ready, the bear was sedated, tagged and brought to a safe location to live out her days in the Northern Ontario wilderness.
“It was a real team effort,” Morissette said. “It keeps me, personally, persevering when we have happy outcomes like this because they’re not always that way.”
The organization also recently rehabilitated and released a starving lynx and took in and stabilized a moose calf before sending it to another facility for further rehabilitation.
The charitable organization’s main challenge at the moment is caring for approximately 200 baby animals, such as raccoons, northern flying squirrels, red squirrels, eastern grey squirrels, a groundhog, robins and pigeons.
“Most of them are through human interaction,” Morissette said, noting that either the parent has been hit by a vehicle or people found and disposed of an animal in their attic or camp only to later discover her babies.
“The message I’d really like to get out there is that if there’s an animal out at your property, especially an enclosure of some sort, it’s usually a mom with babies at this time of year.”
The Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre can be contacted for advice on how to deal with these situations, which Morissette said involve encouraging them to relocate, at 705-691-0433.
As for dealing with injured wildlife, Morissette encourages people to connect with whatever rehabilitation centre is closest to the incident, with a map available at ontariowildliferescue.ca.
Turtle Pond Wildlife Centre is a registered charity and runs on donations. More information can be found online at turtlepondwc.com.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.