A young bear is alive and in the care of experts after officials say he was shot, hit with over 100 pellets to his face.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) received a call about the injured bear in Dorion about a week ago.
“The caller described the bear as showing signs of extreme lethargy, and the bear was lying on its side in a ditch in a rural road and breathing heavily,” said MNRF Bear-Wise Program Support Technician Ashley Elliott.
The MNRF from the Thunder Bay district responded to the call and found the bear to be severely emaciated and acting abnormally.
It said that any attempts to get the bear to stand up or move failed.
“Based on this, the staff decided to chemically immobilize the bear, move it safely into a trap, and conduct further medical examination,” said Elliot.
Four MNRF districts – Thunder Bay, Wawa, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury – worked together to transport the injured bear to the Bear With Us rescue centre.
“The bear left Thunder Bay at 6 a.m. July 13. I picked the bear up in Sudbury at 7:30. Pretty amazing coordination and work by everyone involved,” said Bear With Us Founder and President Mike McIntosh.
McIntosh said the bear appeared to be near death when he arrived. He was severely underweight and missing an eye.
“He had blood running out of his nose. Mucus and bloody. His breathing was very laboured as if he had a lot of fluid in his lungs,” said McIntosh.
The bear was then taken to the National Wildlife Centre for further assessment.
“There is no doubt that this bear had been shot in the face with a birdshot, and as well, it had been shot a second time. Because we also found buckshot in its body. We found over 100 pellets. Hundreds of pellets in its face, nasal, sinuses, around its eye,” said National Wildlife Centre Medical Director Dr. Sherri Cox.
Dr. Cox performed surgeries to remove the buckshot.
“I am concerned that he may not have sufficient vision to be a releasable bear. So right now, he’s in stable condition. He’s getting excellent care,” Dr. Cox added.
McIntosh believes this was not a legal hunting situation. He said, judging by the healing of the skin, the pellets had been there for a few months.
“If somebody thinks that birdshot, shot into a large animal such as a bear won’t hurt them or kill them, they’re wrong. It may not kill them immediately like it would a bird, but it could take months,” explained McIntosh. “Don’t use a shotgun, birdshot, buckshot on bears or a moose or any other large animal.”
Dr. Cox plans to reassess the bear at a later date to determine if he can be released into the wild. In the meantime, he is slowly recovering at the rescue centre in Sprucedale.
The public can contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for any bear occurrences at 1-866-514-2327.
This article was provided by CTV News Barrie (Viewer discretion advised – images are graphic).