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Orphaned Bear Cubs Becoming Expensive Problem For Caretaker

LYME, NH (CBS) - They are up and they should be sleeping.

There are 27 orphaned bear cubs this year for New Hampshire's bear rehabilitator Ben Kilham, who says typically he would be caring for just a few cubs who hibernate peacefully.

File (Photo courtesy Phoebe Kilham)

"We've never had this many," said Kilham.

But with 27, one of the cubs is always up, stirring the pot and keeping the others awake.

When they are up, they want food.

"This year the dynamics are different," said Kilham. "They seem to be stimulating each other and the whole gang stayed up this winter. We tried to withhold food from them and force them into hibernation but that didn't work, they were just digging and searching for food."

Why so many this year? Ben says the problem began early last year. There were fewer foods for bears to feast on and that sent mother bears, called sows, looking for food at chicken coops and beehives. Many ended up being shot by landowners.

"It led to an awful lot of orphans," said Kilham.

With so many cubs, they are keeping each other up rather than hibernating, and all the food they want requires more than just the bare essentials. It can cost up to $1,000 to feed each cub, and the trust which takes care of them is running low on funds.

You can make a donation to the Bear Hill Conservancy Trust at P.O. Box 37, Lyme, New Hampshire, 03768.

The cubs are typically released back into the wild when they are 18 months old.

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