ROTHENBURGER: The story of a bear named Little John and his long journey to safety

Little John in his temporary home. (Image: Northern Lights Wildlife Society)

THE HEAVY METAL CRATE, about the size of an average dog kennel, was dark inside but squeezed against the back of it was a precious cargo.

The special-express package was on a 16-hour, 1,300-km journey from the Kootenays to Smithers, and my daughter Kelly and I were the couriers for part it.

When Kelly offered a small piece of apple through the bars of the crate, our passenger, a skinny yearling black bear, ventured forward and greedily but gently accepted the offering, then another.

We’d been advised to be careful with this little fellow because he is, after all, wild, and he was frightened. His long, sharp claws were evidence of the need for caution.

We were also told to feed him only a very little at a time, as his stomach wasn’t used to a lot of food after he emerged too early from hibernation due to malnourishment. Hence, only a couple of small bites.

One of Little John’s pellet wounds. (Image: Northern Lights Wildflie Society)

The object was to cause him as little stress as possible and keep him comfortable on his bed of straw, with plenty of water and occasional snacks.


Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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