Orphaned bear cubs can be kept in rehab centre over winter, province decides
Bears still too young to survive in the wild, head of rehabilitation facility argues
The Alberta government has decided to allow a wildlife rehabilitation centre to keep two orphaned black bear cubs over the winter, after first insisting the animals must be released into the wild this fall.
The Cochrane Ecological Institute, a non-profit wildlife facility, took in the two cubs — Charlie and Maskwa — after the province lifted a ban in the spring that had been in place since 2010.
The new policy allows wildlife staff to work with private facilities on the rehabilitation of cubs that are less than a year old.
- RELATED | Province lifts ban on rehabbing orphaned black bear cubs
- RELATED | Releasing orphaned bears in fall sets cubs up for failure, says rehab centre
The institute had been told the bears must be released by Oct. 15.
Institute president Clio Smeeton had pressured the province to allow the institute to keep the cubs over the winter, arguing that they were still too young and vulnerable and hadn't yet learned how to find a suitable den site.
After a meeting on Tuesday, Smeeton says the early snowfall changed the minds of provincial officials.
"These cubs will be released in 2019. And hopefully, if everything goes well, over the winter we'll be able to discuss with them how that release is going to be brought about," she said.
Smeeton says if the bears can hibernate over the winter, they will have a greater chance of surviving when they are released into the wild next year.
- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | WestJet's first 3 long-haul Dreamliners will fly direct between Calgary and Europe
- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | On top of the grief, there's the shame: families of victims frustrated with stigma of opioid use
- Read more articles by CBC Calgary, like us on Facebook for updates and subscribe to our CBC Calgary newsletter for the day's news at a glance.