Bear cub killed after family tried to save it: prompts call for change

A family in northeastern B.C. who tried to save a bear cub, only to see it killed by conservation officers, wants the system changed.

B.C. Environment Ministry says cubs habituated to humans can grow up to be deadly

The Jackson family kept this baby bear in a dog kennel with food and water until a conservation officer arrived. (Tiana Jackson)

A family in northeastern B.C. who tried to save a bear cub, only to see it killed by conservation officers, wants the province to change the system.

Shawn Jackson and his sister Tiana thought they were helping when they brought a small bear cub home after finding it roaming alone south of Dawson Creek.

"We waited and waited and waited, we walked all through the bush — still no sign of the mother. So we took it back to my sister's place," said Shawn Jackson.

The Jacksons gave it food and water and made arrangements to transport it to a wildlife centre about eight hours away.

But a conservation officer said the cub had to be put down.

"I cried and begged him not to do that," said Tiana Jackson. "He grabbed the cub, it growled and cried, and he gave it a lethal injection."

A detailed Facebook post she wrote about the experience has been shared more than 1,500 times. 

The Jacksons say they want new rules requiring a vet or wildlife rehabilitation expert to determine the fate of cubs.

Tiana Jackson says she has written to her MLA and is working with animal advocacy groups to foster change.

Cute but deadly

A statement from the Ministry of Environment says the officer assessed the bear to be in poor health, and was not a suitable candidate for rehabilitation.

"Not a single conservation officer relishes the thought of having to destroy an animal," said the ministry.

"This is the most distressing part of their job, and it is something that is often preventable if citizens do their part to keep wild animals wild."

The ministry said giving a cub food and water causes it to become habituated to humans. 

"While a human-conditioned cub might appear 'cute', it can seriously injure or kill people if it grows to become and adult bear without a fear of people," said the ministry.

"When bears become habituated to people or conditioned to garbage, conservation officers are forced to destroy them for public safety."

The statement goes on to remind the public that feeding wildlife, no matter how well-intentioned, is illegal and potentially dangerous.

Penalties can be as high as $100,000 in fines and a year in prison.

With files from Andrew Kurjata


To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Bear cub killed after family tries to save it.

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