In October, The Fur-Bearers began receiving calls and emails about an injured bear cub in a community outside of Calgary, Alberta. Ordinarily, we’d refer the callers to a local wildlife rehabber, but that wouldn’t work in this case – because Alberta doesn’t allow for the rehabilitation of orphaned bear cubs.
Unlike neighboring British Columbia or in Ontario, Alberta has strict policies that will not allow several species of orphaned wildlife to be rehabbed – and they don’t really offer any studies or scientifically-based reasons as to why. As one can expect, this policy, particularly in the case of this injured bear cub, named Russell by area children, led to an outcry.
Local wildlife lovers have come together to push for change to the policy – both through a temporary permit for the local Cochrane Ecological Institute, which is set up and did rehab bears and bear cubs for decades, and for other cubs moving forward. The Fur-Bearers have proudly supported those initiatives. The informal group of advocates have also created a stir in area media on the issue, created a man-made den for Russell, and are on alert for changes in his health or behaviour. Lisa Dahlseide, a biologist and former rehabber at Cochrane Ecological Institute, connected with Defender Radio to have an in-depth talk about the story of Russell, the lack of evidence behind the government’s no-rehab policy, the ins and outs of actions taken by the informal group, and what animal lovers from across Canada and around the world can do to help Russell, and other cubs in his situation.
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