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Raising bucks for bears

These bear triplets, orphaned after an encounter with a garbage dumpster in Coquitlam, are now being cared for by the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley. - ANGELA FONTANA PHOTO
These bear triplets, orphaned after an encounter with a garbage dumpster in Coquitlam, are now being cared for by the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley.
— image credit: ANGELA FONTANA PHOTO

The Burke Mountain Naturalists will be raising money for the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley, where three orphaned bear cubs found in a Coquitlam dumpster are now living, at its annual general meeting Dec. 13.

Everyone is welcome to the event, which will feature a silent auction items such as sessions with an ecological landscape designer or two-hour lessons from a computer software tutor, nature photographer or expert seamstress.

BMN past-president Victoria Otton said the group’s AGM fundraising efforts have often gone to a wildlife rescue centre in Burnaby but with Critter Care in “critical need,” members are directing the money to the Langley centre, one of only four in B.C.

“The mothers get shot and so someone has to care for the orphaned cubs,” she said. “They can’t get accustomed to people, and keeping them over the winter in isolation becomes quite expensive. My understanding is Critter Care has been inundated by local orphaned bears.”

Seven cubs from the Tri-Cities have been sent to Critter Care, including the three cubs found in a dumpster at Summit middle school in October.

After the brief AGM meeting Tuesday, BMN president Ian McArthur will present a slideshow of the group’s 2011 activities, including hikes, invasive plant removal parties, nest box cleaning, nature walks and more.

The AGM is also a chance to sign up for the group’s 19th annual Christmas Bird Count, to be held on Dec. 17. Anybody can volunteer and no birding experience is required, Otton said, since newcomers are paired with people who can identify the birds.

“It’s a great opportunity for families to get out, especially if the weather is good, just for a few hours in the morning. It’s nice to have people with sharp eyes, so kids are great at this.”

This year marks the 112th National Audubon Society Christmas bird count. The tradition was introduced in 1900 to replace the Christmas side hunt, where participants tried to shoot as many birds as possible.

Otton said about 10,000 people take part in the bird count throughout North America, making it a “great example of citizen science and the longest-running wildlife census in the world.”

The data provides information on where birds are wintering, whether their numbers are changing and if climate change and development are having any impact on them.

Volunteers will be assigned to various areas of the Tri-Cities, including Mundy Park, Minnekhada Regional Park, Como Lake and DeBoville Slough.

“We never know what we’re going to find, and that’s what makes it so interesting,” Otton said. “There have been lots of reports of Anna’s Hummingbird, that would be exciting to have on our list.”

If you can’t attend the Dec. 13 AGM but want to volunteer for the bird count, email burkemtnnats@gmail.com or call Hilary at 604-469-5805.

The Burke Mountain Naturalists’ AGM is at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at Como Lake United Church. Visit www.bmn.bc.ca for more information.

spayne@tricitynews.com

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