American entertainer Bob Barker, famed host of The Price is Right, passed away this past Saturday. He was actually behind a Stonewall black bear rehab facility that got off the ground in 2017. 

The project was funded by Barker and at the time, Reeve Jim Campbell updated their progress.

"We had Mr. and Mrs. Stearns, who live in Rockwood just north of Stonewall, who applied to start a bear rehab sanctuary for cubs," said Campbell. "It didn't quite fit zoning so we had a hearing for a zoning amendment."

Campbell added there was a small crowd and first reading would be given at their following meeting. He noted the couple got plenty of support from the province and an expert on bears came out from Toronto to present the cause at the council meeting.

The centre was Manitoba's first bear cub rehabilitation facility. Judy Stearns says the idea behind the centre was to give cubs a safe place to grow during their first summer before they're released in the fall.  Stearns noted at the time, orphaned cubs were either left to fend for themselves in the wild or killed or perhaps placed into captivity. She noted Manitoba was one of the few provinces with a bear population that doesn't have a dedicated bear rehabilitation centre, adding she and her husband have been thinking about doing something like this for several years prior.  

Stearns noted the animals under their care would have minimal human contact, because the bears need to stay wild and not get habituated to people.  She added everything would be in the best interest of the bears.  Stearns said they were in the planning process when they had a great team of people working with them----including Zoocheck Canada, Dr. John Beecham, and well-known TV personality Bob Barker.  She noted Barker contributed fifty thousand dollars to their project, adding when they learned of the donation it felt like they had won the lottery.  Stearns said she was always a fan of Barker's because he was such an animal lover, so they were very grateful for his help.

Judy Stearns noted they worked with the province and the RM to meet all the necessary criteria for the rehab centre and they planned hope to be up and running next spring. Stearns added when they had all of the extra support the facility could be even larger, which will be great for the bears in the end. 


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