ERRINGTON -- The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRA) in Errington has had to close its doors to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly hurt its ability to rehabilitate animals back into the wild.

“It’s pretty well just dried up for funding because we don’t have anyone coming through the doors,” said Robin Campbell, founder of NIWRA.

The not-for-profit organization relies heavily on revenues generated from admissions to its facility. The funding then goes towards feeding and rehabilitating the more than 100 animals that are either permanent residents or are recovering at the centre, which includes five black bears.

The centre is known for their successful black bear recovery program, says Campbell.

In the past month, two orphan black bear cubs have come into the centre.

One cub, named Crumpet, weighed just two pounds when it was found by a fisherman in the Qualicum Beach area.

“We don’t know exactly what happened to her mother and she was on her own for about three days,” said Derek Downes, an animal technician at NIWRA.

“It was really a good thing we got her when we did. She surely would have perished on her own, without her mother,” said Downes.

The centre’s second new cub, named Goldie, was involved in a vehicle collision on the Gold River highway.

Downes says both are doing well and will eventually be paired together at the centre for 14-16 months as they continue their rehabilitation into the wild.

“It will be a great outcome in the end to see them run back off into the forest, back where they belong,” said Downes.

He hopes their story can be a ray of hope for people in these trying times.

“I hope that people can take some positivity out of a very negative situation that we are all dealing with,” he said.

The three black bear cubs that NIWRA has been rehabilitating since last year will be collared and released this summer.

If you would like to help out with donations to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, visit their website here