Three bear cubs who were found in a roadside washroom in Alberta have been transported to a rehabilitation facility in Ontario, despite a bureaucratic disagreement over what should be done with them.
The bears were found on April 1st, locked inside of the washroom in Banff National Park. Their mother was nowhere to be found, and it has been speculated that she was illegally shot by hunters who then shut the cubs in the washroom in the hopes that they would be found.
However, for black bear cubs, being found orphaned in Alberta usually means being euthanized. The province passed a law in 2010 that bans the rehabilitation of black bears without permission. There’s a large black bear population in Alberta, and officials are opposed to rehabilitating baby bears because they believe they become habituated to humans and can pose a safety hazard later, plus they are often poorly habituated to surviving the wild.
Despite the Alberta law, Parks Canada officials decided to transfer the bears to a sanctuary in Ontario, arguing that the parks are federal land and that the Alberta law therefore could be bypassed. Alberta attempted to block the transport of the bears by air, so officials drove the bears to B.C. and flew them to Ontario from there. According to Ontario law, bears can be rehabilitated as long as they are returned to their original habitat, so the bears will be returned to Banff when they are able to survive in the wild.
The bears, which are four or five months old, are said to be adapting well to the sanctuary, and have been named Banff, Jasper, and Yoho, after the national parks.