LANGLEY (NEWS 1130) – A Langley man performed CPR on an orphaned baby bear to try to save its life last week after it got tangled in a cord and its mother was killed by a vehicle along the Trans Canada Highway near Lytton.
Ronnie Dean Harris was driving on a stretch of the highway between Boston Bar and Lytton on June 26 when he saw a dead mother bear on the side of the road.
“I wasn’t going to stop but it kind of bugged my conscience so I went to drop some tobacco, which is a custom in our First Nations culture,” he says. “When I doubled back I saw a little head peek up over the concrete barrier and there was a cub.”
Harris and other drivers who stopped spotted two cubs nearby, including one in a tree that had a cord around its neck. He believes the cord was the inner rim of a blown-out tire that had become tangled in the cub’s fur.
Harris contacted conservation officers and gave them the location of the cubs before going to his vehicle to get a blade and cut the cub free. By the time he returned, the bear was hanging lifeless in the tree. Recalling a time he watched someone perform CPR on a dog, he says he isn’t sure if it was instinct or just reaction that caused him to leap into action.
“I cut him down and when he was on the ground he wasn’t doing all that well so I did a couple chest compressions and was patting him and like ‘come on buddy, you can do it’ and calling him back,” Harris says. “He finally let out a gasp and saw me and noticed I was a human being and just ran down into the woods.”
Knowing there was little else he could do, Harris kept in touch with conservation officers from the Hope Mountain Black Bear Community and went home for the night.
The next day a team laid out traps and by the following morning, one of the cubs had been caught in the cage and the second was wrangled by officers. They were taken to the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley.
Unfortunately, the injured cub did not survive for very long after it was caught, but its sibling will be rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild when it can fend for itself.