November 1, 2017
MLA Andre Corbould
Office of the Deputy Minister
10th Floor, South Petroleum Plaza
9915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 2G8
re: Response to comments on Bragg Creek bear cub
Deputy Minister Andre Corbould,
Numerous Albertans have contacted your Ministry regarding a clearly injured bear cub who has frequented the Bragg Creek area. You indicate that your office, as well as Fish and Wildlife Officers have monitored the bear on an ongoing basis.
You also state that your experts indicate that the bear is feeding and moving throughout their normal habitat, and will hibernate for winter, hopefully to awake healed from the injury. You also state that your experts say rehabilitation of the bear will place him at “significant risk, inflict pain, and add additional stress.”
These statements are extremely concerning to myself, The Fur-Bearers, and our 60,000+ supporters across Canada. Based on the available information, no one has examined this bear cub up close, and therefore the extent of his injuries isn’t known. At this time, the diagnoses your experts offer are a guess, and the only way to understand the injuries, pain and stress (which at least one study indicates can’t always be seen through external behaviour) is to examine the bear at close quarters by a qualified veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator with specialized training.
Additionally, your views, as informed by your Ministry staff and experts, that wildlife rehabilitation is unsafe for bears is extremely unsettling. This view can easily be rebuked by the numerous highly-trained and experienced bear rehabbers across Canada (BearWithUs.org, NIWRA.orgfor example), who are closely monitored, work with researchers, and are even documented on television documentaries. Within Alberta you have individuals with similar training, experience, and the facilities to treat injured bear cubs.
The Fur-Bearers would also like to know how the Ministry is managing the issue of individuals, who see the Ministry not taking action, and anecdotally mentioned on social media the ideas of feeding the bear, getting closer to help or photograph the bear, or possibly killing the bear.
Please respond with why Alberta is the sole jurisdiction we have seen in Canada and the continental United States with policies that prohibit the treatment and rehabilitation of orphaned black bear cubs, and which experts are citing what research that leads you to believe rehabilitation, a common practice across Canada, causes significant risk, pain and stress.
Inset photo of black bear cub by KinanEchtay.com