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Bearing down on cub euthanasia

Orphaned bear cubs in Alberta have nowhere to turn

Over the past five years, about two-dozen bears have been euthanized after wildlife rehabilitation centres have been forbidden from taking them in because they are deemed a risk to public safety.

These decisions, made by the provincial government, have many people outraged and questioning how euthanizing a perfectly healthy animal is a practical decision.

One of the reasons behind this is that government wildlife officials fear the animals could be carrying a disease.

Clio Smeeton, president of the Cochrane Ecological Institute, said rehabilitation centres must provide information showing that all staff are immunized against rabies and tetanus.

“Veterinarians identify disease (if there is any injured or orphaned wildlife received) and supervise care. Therefore, disease is not an issue,” said Smeeton.

According to a presentation done by the Cochrane Ecological Institute on black bear cubs, in other provinces of Canada, in the USA, and in other parts of the world, orphaned bears are accepted for rearing, rehabilitation, and releases.

But since 2010, Alberta has not been permitted to take in orphaned bears and other wildlife.

Many people believe that the fear of these animals carrying diseases does not justify why wildlife institutions cannot rehabilitate them.

Wildlife rehabilitation and release is a free service given to wildlife by rehabilitation facilities, which the government does not have to pay for.

Smeeton said there is no government support for these facilities; they are supported by donations from the public.

Willingness for the public to donate to wildlife causes demonstrates the desire for such facilities to exist.

“Government, both federal and provincial, does not have earmarked funds to pay for wildlife rescue rehabilitation and release.” “This means that governments do not have the purpose to build facilities, trained personnel, nor the expertise to undertake wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release. Which means they are unable to do this,” said Smeeton.

It’s pretty obvious who the real experts on wildlife are, and they certainly do not seem to exist within the government.

But without these wildlife facilities taking in the bears, help for our furry orphaned friends looks grim.

Moral of the story: euthinization is not the answer.

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