A four-year-old wild black bear that was found paralyzed and emaciated in a field in northern Ontario underwent an MRI in the Toronto area Tuesday in what is thought to be a Canadian first. 

Hope, the bear, was found by a local family in Fort Frances, Ont., in December and came to the attention of Mike McIntosh, who runs the Bear With Us sanctuary in Huntsville, Ont. 

"[They] saw her walk around the field and saw her lay down," McIntosh told CBC News. "They knew she was very much in distress." 

McIntosh drove more than 3,000 kilometres to Fort Frances and back to get the female bear and brought it to the Mississauga-Oakville Veterinary Emergency Hospital, where it underwent the MRI. 

At its age, Hope should weigh about 180 pounds but is only about 90 pounds. 

"She's paralyzed, she doesn't seem to have much feeling in the back end, no movement at all and limited movement with her front," McIntosh said. 

Veterinarians have ruled out poison and bullets as the source of Hope's paralysis and on Tuesday placed the bear under anesthetic before putting it in a modified MRI machine. 

"We are looking for any disease that would be affecting the spinal cord — spinal compression, disk herniations," said veterinary neurologist Carolina Duque. 

The bear will return to McIntosh's sanctuary, and a diagnosis is expected to be revealed Wednesday. 


Map showing the route Mike McIntosh of the Bear With Us sanctuary drove to retrieve Hope. (Google Earth)

From a report by the CBC's Natalie Kalata