No, they’re not of the Chicago variety. Sixty-year-old Ben Kilham is known to friends and neighbors as the “bear rehabilitator ” and it is not a title lightly earned. According to WCVB, Kilham has been taking in young bears for about the last two decades. So for all the sleep-weary parents out there, imagine dealing with that ruckus for 20-odd years.

Usually, Kilham’s job is fairly straight forward. He would look after up to half a dozen cubs in the wooded area behind his house, making sure they are fed and have adequate shelter. Since the cubs normally hibernate during the winter, Kilham doesn’t need to spend all that much money outside of some dog food. However, this year Kilham is playing host to a record 27 bear cubs, and they are certainly keeping him busy.

The reason for the abnormally high number of bears in his care can be traced back to a shortage of naturally-growing food in bear territory. In response, female bears have resorted to raiding farmyards and other human habitats and were shot by landowners. Any cubs found laying about were brought to Kilham.

He is also having trouble getting them to hibernate, reports WBZ-TV.

“This year the dynamics are different,”Kilham said. “They seem to be stimulating each other and the whole gang stayed up this winter. We tried to withhold food from them and force them into hibernation but that didn’t work, they were just digging and searching for food.”

While a hibernating bear takes care of itself, an awake and hungry cub is another beast altogether. Kilham estimates that it will take approximately a $1,000 each to see the cubs through winter. The foundation that usually funds Kilham is struggling to raise enough money for all 27 and has appealed to the public for assistance.

Donations can be sent to Bear Hill Conservancy Trust at P.O. Box 37, Lyme, New Hampshire, 03768, where they will be greatly appreciated.

Although understandably exhausted and maybe not a little tired of Kibbles ‘n Bits, Kilham remains undaunted. The cubs will be released back into the wild upon reaching 18 months of age.

Image from Florida Fish and Wildlife (MyFWCmedia) on the flickr Creative Commons

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