On the night of May 19, Fawcett’s daughter Connie reported her father heard two gunshots and immediately feared for his furry neighbour.
“A few days later, we saw the babies wandering around without mommy,” Connie said. “Every time we had seen the mother we had seen the babies not far behind. They were never, never far apart.”
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) was contacted and opened an investigation; Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary was brought in to rescue the cubs – which they successfully did on May 25. The cubs will remain in the care of Aspen Valley until next year, when they are old enough to establish homes of their own.
Initial reactions from animal advocates is that this is a misinformed hunter, thinking Parry Sound is part of the controversial spring bear hunt pilot project, which it is not. However, it is just as likely that this was an incident of poaching – knowingly and willingly hunting illegally.
The MNR investigation may or may not reveal the killer of the mother bear. And that’s why we want to see the provincial body and its political leaders to invest more in front-line conservation officers and preventative messaging – just like police departments do. We’d also like to see funding and training offered by MNR for rehabilitators like Aspen Valley. The rehabilitation centre is funded entirely by private donations – and even MNR’s own staff seem to know how important they are.
The election in Ontario is less than two weeks away – there’s still time to find out where your local candidates sit on the spring bear hunt and animal welfare issues. And there’s still time to remind them that your vote counts.
Photo of orphaned cubs provided by Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary