Concern grows over injured bear near Calgary

Cochrane wildlife reserve frustrated over red tape to treat injured black bear
WATCH ABOVE: An injured black bear near Bragg Creek is causing some outcry after the government says it’s not necessary to treat. Jenna Freeman explains.

Recent sightings of what appears to be an injured black bear west of Calgary has prompted calls for officials to intervene.

A video, shot by Rob Evans, shows what he describes as a small, injured bear in a field near Bragg Creek, west of Calgary.

“We’re speculating (this bear) has been hit by a vehicle with the way its hind quarters are injured and it’s favouring it.”

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Evans told Global News he understands animals do get injured in the wild, but he feels this case is different.

“I guess my concern is, if it’s been injured by something that is not natural, that it would be humane to at least look at (the bear) and assess if intervention is necessary.”

Evans said he first noticed the injured bear a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t realize that it was a bear at first. He said he took a video of the bear interacting with a coyote on Tuesday.

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Alberta Environment and Parks told Global News on Thursday that officials have been aware of the bear for a couple of weeks and have been monitoring it.

Carnivore expert Paul Frame said at this point, he sees no reason to intervene.

“We know that it’s feeding OK and it seems to be moving around OK. You know, it’s limping, but  he’s quite ambulatory. If you’ve seen the video footage of him interacting with that coyote, he seems to move around pretty well.”

Frame said they do not know how the bear was injured, or even when it was injured, but as long as it is showing signs it is thriving on its own, they prefer to leave the bear in the wild.

“That’s just not something we do with wildlife that aren’t at imminent risk of dying. From our point of view, he’s doing OK on the landscape.

“So we don’t feel there’s a need for human intervention at this point,” Frame said.

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The president of the Cochrane Ecological Institute disagrees. Clio Smeeton told Global News on Thursday that her group has been helping Alberta wildlife for 50 years and have successfully rehabilitated many injured and orphaned bears.

According to Smeeton, there is a real lack of knowledge about the state of black bears in Alberta.

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“There have been no surveys for black bears since 1993, and in that case, the government guessed, (through) an aerial photograph, that there were 40,000 black bears in Alberta,” Smeeton said.

 “You can’t manage something when you don’t know what the numbers are. And you can’t afford to kill them when you don’t know what the numbers are.”

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Smeeton said her group couldn’t intervene in this case even if they wanted to because the Alberta government introduced a policy document in 2010 that prevents organizations like hers from assisting certain wild animals, including black bears.

But according to Frame, capturing this particular bear could do more harm than good.

“Taking a wild animal into captivity is stressful for it. So you never know how that’s going to turn out for the animal.”

Smeeton feels in this case, the bear should be checked.

“We can’t afford to lose cubs we can save. It’s much kinder to collect this bear and have it evaluated by a vet.

“If it’s fixable, fix it. And if it’s not fixable, put it down.

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“Otherwise it’s just a cruel and unusual punishment to leave a cub on its own until wintertime where it will be killed anyway.”

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Frame said they do not know the exact age of the cub, but based on the fact it has not been spotted near its mother, he believes it to be at least a year-and-a-half.