An innovative new rehabilitation centre for orphaned black bear cubs is being built in North Vancouver to help the animals learn the survival skills they’ll need before being re-released.

Many of the cubs lose their mothers when they get too close to humans and are destroyed.

“The issue of black bears becoming habituated to human food on the North Shore has become a major headache for municipalities,” said Ralph Sultan, MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano.

“Sometimes the destruction of mother bears is the only option and this new centre will give their orphaned cubs another chance of survival.”

Environment Minister Barry Penner, who on Wednesday announced $400,000 in funding for the new centre, said the facility will give cubs a chance to develop their natural foraging and denning skills.

“There’s a much better probability that they can become independent, healthy wild bears on their own when given this opportunity,” Penner said.

Ken Macquisten, managing director for the Grouse Mountain Refuge For Endangered Wildlife, said the program calls for minimal contact between bears and humans.

The Fromme Mountain facility has 32 hectares of typical black bear habitat and will be capable of handling as many as 25 bears.

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