October 18, 2014 - 7:28 AM
REVELSTOKE – Angelika Langren and her husband Peter have rescued so many bear cubs through the years, it's become a regular routine. But their planned trip to Golden had several hangups last Thanksgiving weekend when they picked up two grizzly bear cubs. Despite the challenges, the couple learned a few lessons about the kindness of strangers and the power of social media.
It was a 15-hour trek for the Langrens to travel from the Northern Lights Wildlife Society headquarters in Smithers to Golden and pick up the cubs. They had received a call from the Conservation Service about the orphaned bears after their mother was struck and killed on a highway in the Kootenays. The bears, while they were able to find some food, continued to return to their mother’s lifeless body. If left in the wild they would not have been able to survive alone, they say.
After picking up the bears, Angelika says she and Peter were excited; they made good time on their trek, tagged, sedated, dewormed the bears and were on their way back to Smithers.
“We were in really good spirits,” she says. “But then 30 kilometres out of Revelstoke all the lights went off on the truck.”
It was a minor setback on the trip, but after Angelika called BCAA for her roadside service she was met with another barrier. The woman who worked for the company asked her what was in her truck's trailer. With a laugh, Angelika told her it housed two grizzly cubs.
Angelika says the woman told her the company policy did not include livestock, but would return her call after speaking with a manager.
“We came to the conclusion they wouldn’t help us,” she says.
Parked on the side of the road, the trailer shook each time a bigger truck drove past it, causing the bears stress and panic. Desperate, Angelika figured they would do the next best thing: They asked for help by posting a status on the Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook page.
“I underestimated social media greatly,” Angelika says. “Within 30 minutes, BCAA called back and they had found a trucking company that was going to come and pick us up because they got calls from as far away as California telling them that people were not impressed.”
Once they made it to Revelstoke, the next issue was finding a place to stay since there were no mechanics immediately available.
“It’s not like you can park a trailer with grizzly bears,” Angelika says with a laugh. “So, back to Facebook we went.”
In turn they received an outpour of support from various individuals willing to keep the bears in their property's secluded areas such as a barn or garage for a night. But the help didn't stop there.
“The Facebook crew was busy again and they found us a mechanic,” Angelika says.
By lunchtime the next day, the couple, with bears in tow, were back on the road.
The altruism of strangers followed them to Kamloops where they met strangers offering to bring the bears apples and squash.
“Then they pulled a big bag from their car... it was a turkey sandwich dinner for Peter and me with homemade pumpkin pie,” Angelika says. "It was just so cool."
Now the cubs have settled at their sanctuary in Smithers. Angelika says by next summer, she and Peter will make the trek again to release the bears in the Kootenay region.
While the pair have a lengthy history of rescue missions, Angelika says she’ll never forget her last Thanksgiving. Beyond the people helping her either by offering a place to stay, food, or donations, she says many drove past them on the road to wave or give them the thumbs up.
“What was starting to be a very bad experience (turned) into something incredibly magical,” she says.
“I’ve done a lot of rescues, and I’ve been a lot of places and we met a lot of great of people who helped out. But it was always a couple of individuals who you worked with, not this huge outpour of help and encouragement and support. I’ve never seen this before.”
Angelika says the society will soon decide on names for the cubs – one a male, the other female – through suggestions on their Facebook page. Watch for the contest at a later date.
Check out a couple more photos of the bears below:
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— This story was corrected at 8:10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 to include the name of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society which was missing in the original version.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014