April 8, 2018 1:36 pm
Updated: April 8, 2018 1:37 pm

Sanctuary could send bear cubs back to Alberta by summer

WATCH: Fri, Apr 7: Parks Canada is investigating after three black bear cubs were found in a Banff National Park restroom, without their mother.

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Three black bear cubs that were sent to Ontario after they were found in a Banff National Park restroom without their mother could come back to Alberta this summer, according to the director of the sanctuary where they’re rehabilitating.

“The plan has always been that they would go back,” Howard Smith, the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary managing director, said in a recent interview.

“The timing we’re looking at now is probably around mid-June, when the vegetation out there is up enough to provide natural food for them.”

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Smith said so far, the past year of rehabilitation for the bears has gone very well. They were sent to the sanctuary last April by Parks Canada, and eventually found themselves in a remote outdoor enclosure, where they hibernated over the winter months.

“They’re a lot bigger,” Smith said about the three bears.

“They came in at about six-and-a-half pounds and they’re probably, I don’t know, around 130 pounds, at least, now.”

READ MORE: Future uncertain for 3 bear cubs found locked in washroom in Banff National Park

The bears are in Ontario in part because that province allows orphaned bear cubs to be rehabilitated. That is currently not the case in Alberta, however government officials signal that a change to their policy is coming soon.

“The Government of Alberta is collaborating on a new protocol that will enable compassionate rehabilitation of orphaned black bear cubs,” Murray Langdon, a spokesperson with Alberta’s Environment and Parks department, said in a statement.

“We are taking the time to get this right, and that means working with local experts and rehabilitation centres to ensure the protocol considers public safety, the latest science on bear behaviour, and the welfare of orphaned black bear cubs.”

READ MORE: ‘We may never know’ how bear cubs became stranded in Banff bathroom: Parks Canada

Smith described the government’s potential move as a “positive change.”

“We’ve been able to rehab from here for many years and I think it’s about time,” Smith said.

“It should be a benefit to any bears that are orphaned or injured or that need some help.”

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