PEACE REGION?S ?BEAR LADY?

Leona Green, who is a federally and provincially licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, lives in a trappers cabin ten kilometers west of Dawson Creek. Green has been featured in the March 2007 edition of Canadian Living. She fosters abandoned or orphaned animals until they are strong enough to be sent back into the wild.

Green became a Wildlife Rehabilitator 28 years ago when a family friend brought her a snowy owl with a concussion. That same year, Green was asked to care for a hawk and the following spring, she was taking care of a fawn. Green says that everything ?kind of snowballed from there?. Soon, Green?s farm became the home for coyotes, lynx, foxes, hawks, black bears, owls, and grizzly bears. She claims that she is the only known person in North America who is able to rehabilitate grizzly bears.

Green admits that she has no official training in the medical field. She applies her practical experience when she cares for animals that conservation officers recommend to her. She also attributes home remedies to the healing processes she has used. When a two year old colt was brought to Green, she used an old remedy as part of the healing process. She claimed the colt was ?almost dead on its feet? when she saw it for the first time. The animal was so ill that it suffered from fever, hair loss, and weight loss. The colt was suffering from an infection in its hoof which Green healed by soaking its hoof in Epsom salts and penicillin.

A combination of modern medicine, herbs, and advice from her friends in the native community have given her the experience to care for wildlife. She also contributes her experience to working for 20 years as an SPCA volunteer.

Green?s farm is home to two black bears and four grizzlies. With the warm weather in the past month, she has seen the grizzlies stirring a few times. Green said that the grizzlies usually do not start becoming alert until about April. This is when she begins to feed them. The bears eat a high protein diet which consists of meat, fat, and grain which includes wheat, oats, barley, and molasses. The bears are very heavy before they are sent back into the wilderness. The bears, which are released by conservation officers, are brought back to the same area that they were found. The bears that Green is caring for at present were found near Tumbler Ridge.

The bears that Green receives are usually babies found in the spring. However, early this winter, a dangerously underweight black bear was brought to her. It was only 15 to 20 pounds when she first saw it. According to Green, two men were camping when the starved bear literally crawled into their camp area. They contacted a conservation officer right away. The bear was referred to Green and on November 5th, 2006, the bear was brought to it?s new home on Green?s farm. Green has been tending to the bear throughout the winter and is proud to announce that the bear ?is doing much better now?.

Green is never fearful when entering the bear?s cages to feed them. She refers to them as her ?girls and boys?. In fact, recently, when her Husky dog alarmed her that a black bear was laying about on her deck, Green shooed the bear away, saying, ?Get out of here!? The bear eventually strolled down her driveway and left. Most people would be frightened to see a black bear that is too close for comfort. Green fearlessly approaches them.

Green said that the respect that she and the bears have for each other is mutual. Green does not encourage the public to come and view the bears because they become human habituated. Green is able to get close to the bears because they are used to her scent and that have a mutual respect for each other. Sometimes though, they can get out of line. Green jokingly said that when that happens ?they have to mind their P?s and Q?s, otherwise they get a whack from me!? There is no doubt that this ?mother of six? is highly respected by her ?girls and boys?.