A wildlife biologist in Calgary wants to get permission to set up a shelter for an injured black bear near Springbank to hibernate for the winter, but the province says the best course of action is not to intervene.
Lisa Dahlseide says she is racing against time and cold weather to save the young bear, which has an injured hind leg.
"Even if there is the possibility that this bear can build his own den, which I doubt because of his injury, I don't see how he's going to be really effective at digging and gathering materials," Dahlseide said.
For more than a month, the bear has been seen limping in a farmer's field along Highway 22 near the small community of Redwood Meadows, about 40 kilometres west of Calgary.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife has been monitoring the black bear, but the province said human interaction with wildlife can threaten the bear's ability to hibernate and to heal on its own.
'Not fully healed, but is healing'
In a statement, a spokesperson for the province said the bear has not been seen since Nov .6, and had not been seen over the previous few days.
"This indicates that the bear is mobile and spending time in areas away from human activity or interaction. The bear has not fully healed, but is healing. It is foraging and gaining weight on its own," read the statement.
Dahlseide said she agreed with the province's assessment, until she saw the bear with her own eyes.
"My whole life changed at that moment because it was very evident this bear was not thriving," she said. "I'm actually surprised it is still alive."
Dahlseide said she saw an underweight, dehydrated black bear, with a "very unhealthy" guard coat and it appeared to have no under coat.
Temporary, portable shelter
In 2010, the provincial legislation changed to prevent Alberta animal rehabilitation centres from caring for bears, but Dhalside is continuing to petition Parks and Wildlife to allow this bear to be taken to a rehabilitation centre.
If they won't allow it, Dahlseide wants permission to set up a temporary, artificial shelter for the black bear to hibernate.
"It's a wooden box with insulation around and then another wooden box on top of that. Once on the landscape, then it would be lined with some hay or straw and then also packed with straw bales around it," she said.
Dahlseide is also asking landowners in the area for permission to place the shelter.
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