The story of Russell, the orphaned and injured bear cub outside of Calgary, broke hearts around the world. Wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians were ready, willing, and able to assist by examining his injured leg, and providing a safe environment for his rehabilitation over winter, but Alberta Environment and Parks refused. While the story of Russell is sad, and his fate following hibernation remains unknown, it highlighted a greater problem: several indigenous species that the government has decided cannot or should not be rehabilitated from injury or illness, or cared for as orphans.
The story of Russell also accomplished something remarkable: the government has stated they are now reviewing and implementing protocols for black bear rehabilitation in the province. Due to an overwhelming response by all of you, and the hard work of a core of advocates in Alberta, the media did not relent, and the science, ethics and logic of rehabilitation, forced a change.
To discuss the cautious optimism of this important victory, the combination of ethics and science behind rehabilitation, and why the advocacy can’t end now, Defender Radio was joined by biologist and former rehabilitator Lisa Dahlseide.
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