Black bear cubs that are orphaned in Alberta could soon be cared for by a rehabilitation facility and released back into the wild, thanks to a new policy introduced by the government Wednesday.
The policy, which comes after much public outcry over a number of orphaned bears found in the province, including three cubs found in a public bathroom in Banff National Park and Russel the bear, found injured in a field near Calgary.
If approved, Alberta Fish and Wildlife staff would work with rehab facilities across the province to make sure cubs under one year old are cared for and then safely returned to the wild.
“Alberta’s orphaned black bear policy is based on the best available scientific research, modern rehabilitation practices, compassion for these animals and the safety of people. We want black bear cubs to grow up and thrive in the wilds of Alberta,” Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips said in a release.
Requirements around feeding the bears as well as the physical space they’re kept in, veterinary care, and human interactions are outlined in a draft protocol in the policy.
Once the bears are assessed, they would be released either on or before Oct. 15 of the year they arrived at the facility, meaning they won’t spend the winter — unless there are special circumstances.
LISTEN: Naturalist Lisa Dahlseide on the province’s new orphaned black bear cub rehabilitation policy
It’s hoped the policy, which the government said has been in the works for more than a year, will ensure bears can forage for their own food, socialize with other bears and will be less likely to be involved in conflicts with humans.
Bears that are released from rehabilitation facilities will also be fitted with monitoring devices, so their reintegration can be tracked by scientists.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.