Wildlife experts worry people feeding black bear could prevent him from hibernating

black bear

Someone’s been feeding an orphaned and injured black bear wandering around a farmer’s field west of Calgary. And though their intentions may be good, wildlife experts say they may be doing more harm than anything.

According to reports, the two-year-old bear was first spotted roaming the Springbank field in September. But with winter on its way, some anonymous animal lovers are getting worried for the thin little bear, and recently attempted to provide him with food, leaving both a deer carcass and a pile of pumpkins in the field for him to feed on.

“There were tire marks that showed a truck drove right up into the field,” wildlife biologist Lisa Dahlseide told the Calgary Herald. “People should not be out there feeding the bear. I’m quite concerned.”

It’s not just an invitation to other predators, she says, it could be keeping the bear in the field when he should be getting ready to hibernate.

Fearing he won’t be strong enough to build a den of his own, she and some other wildlife biologists hope the bear will find the artificial one they’ve made from boxes, plywood, and wool. So far, he hasn’t made his way to the den, though Dahlseide told Global News the recent supply of food could be to blame.

Bear den

“It’s preventing him from finding the den that we’ve placed on the landscape for him, so he’s not going to leave this area with that continual food source.”

Redwood Meadows Fire Chief Rob Evans has been photographing the bear since he was first seen, and told the Herald that he seems to be loitering in one area of the field. Despite the bear’s injured paw, which is causing him to limp, Evans also thinks the food supply is the biggest concern.

“It’s ridiculous. Those of us who want to do something are doing everything we can, but we don’t want to habituate [him],” he said. “If they would just leave the poor bear alone, [he] would probably be out of there and maybe looking for a den.”

The hope is that the bear will be strong enough to make his way to the artificial den. Once he settles in for the winter, they hope to tranquilize the young bear, and then have a vet come in to examine his leg and any other potential health issues while he’s sleeping. It’s the only way to take care of the bear without habituating him. The key is to ensure he doesn’t lose his fear of humans and become a public safety concern once he’s grown.

Featured Video