Without help, an injured bear cub that has been hanging out in a field west of Calgary is unlikely to survive the winter, a wildlife biologist says. The bear was first spotted walking alone in a field in September with an apparent injury to its leg. Its mother was nowhere to be found.
Since then, the bear has been seen several times, but onlookers are barred from helping the cub, as it is the policy of the Alberta government not to rehabilitate orphaned black bear cubs. Nevertheless, advocacy groups and residents are lobbying the government to step in.
“It’s an inhumane act,” Michael Howie, spokesperson for animal advocacy group The Fur-Bearers, told Global News. “We see an injured bear and it makes sense to very simply allow a qualified rehabilitation expert or veterinarian to . . . examine the bear and determine its injuries.”
The province, however, is sticking to its policy. “Based on our professional experience in these situations, it was determined that the best course of action is not to intervene, Olav Rokne of Alberta Environment and Parks said in a statement, “but instead to provide the bear the space it needs to recover on its own.” Rokne continues on to say that keeping a wild animal in captivity can cause physical and psychological harm.
The bear’s condition has improved since it was first spotted, biologist Lisa Dahlseide has told the National Post. But winter is approaching, and it appears the bear hasn’t built up enough fat to survive it.
“I feel that it was a bit too late in the game for this time of year,” Dahlseide said. “He had such a long period of time when he wasn’t mobile, where he lacked getting the nutritional content that he needed to prepare for hibernation.”
The Cochrane Ecological Institute, a conservation society, has already written to the province to request permission to take the bear in, and have already collected donations to help it recover, but they have not received approval.
Dahlseide has proposed one last-ditch effort to help the cub: building a den out of straw bales on the private property where the bear has been living, since it may be unable to build one itself. The property owner has said they are open to this option, as long as it doesn’t pose legal problems.
Dahlseide says it’s an imperfect solution, but better than nothing. “We have built the den, so as soon as we get the OK, it’s just a matter of putting it on the back of a pickup truck.”