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Watch as a mother black bear swims to her cubs' rescue in a B.C. lake
New video recorded at a Metro Vancouver boat launch shows the remarkable sight of a mother black bear saving her two cubs, as at least one of them appears to struggle to swim across.
The video, captured June 26 by Paul Csintalan on the shore of Pitt Lake and uploaded to Storyful, begins with the sow and two cubs some distance off shore.
One cub is directly behind its mother, while the other is further out in the lake, what appears to be at least 50 metres away, and crying out repeatedly, what conservation officers called "bawling" to get the sow’s attention.
"I’ve never seen a video like that," said Sgt. Todd Hunter with the BC Conservation Officer Service for Fraser North.
"It’s a captivating video. It definitely shows the mother instinct and how that black bear reacted…in order to protect its cubs."
When the cub gets closer, the mother appears to go under, something the voice behind the camera calls "spooky." The sow then helps her cub scramble on her back.
She swims out to help the second cub, who then trails her and his or her sibling to the dock.
Luci Cadman, an education coordinator with the North Shore Black Bear Society, told CTV News watching the video of the five or six-month-old cubs learning to swim hit her right in the heart.
"She waited a little while before she went to his rescue," Cadman said. "He had to scream and let her know that he really needed some help."
"Oh they're going to be good. Look at that, that’s awesome," said the voice behind the camera.
Hunter said water at the spot where the current flows out of Pitt Lake and into the river is typically moving quite fast and called the crossing "difficult."
He added he’d never seen a cub on its mother’s back or a bear family crossing as a group.
"They’re small, but they’re pretty tough and resilient," Hunter said, adding the conservation service plans to do an inspection to see if attractants like local blueberries or conflict with humans or other wildlife may have motivated the crossing.
Cadman described the black bear cubs as "just like children" who need to be taught by their mothers to swim or climb.
She also applauded those who watched calmly from shore for not making a distressing situation for the animals worse by shouting, and by giving the bears space to catch their breath and replenish their energy.
The video ends with the sow and her cubs shaking themselves off as they lumber off the dock and into some grass at the shoreline.
"Good job. Oh so cute!" the voice behind the camera said.