Danielle Smith: Government policy on grizzly cubs is shoot first, make excuses later

A grizzly cub was shot by Alberta Fish and Wildlife conservation officers after being rescued by two women.
A grizzly cub was shot by Alberta Fish and Wildlife conservation officers after being rescued by two women. Global News File

I have to wonder how many grizzly bear cubs Alberta Fish and Wildlife conservation officers are going to kill before Environment Minister Shannon Phillips steps in to stop the idiocy.

Here’s the latest. Brandy Gienger and Kyla Woodard run an animal rescue facility in Grande Cache — just for domestic animals, not wild ones. But because the women are known to the locals, last week they received several calls about an orphaned grizzly cub to see if they could do something to help. They monitored the cub for a few days and the mama didn’t return.

They made calls around and found out it’s against the law to rehabilitate grizzly cubs in Alberta, so they arranged for a rehabilitation centre in Smithers, B.C., to accept the cub.

After receiving advice on what to do, they captured the cub with a blanket and held it in a dark space with minimal human contact. They fed it goat milk because it is too young to eat anything else, and arranged for it to be picked up 36 hours later and taken to Smithers.

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LISTEN: Brandy Gienger and Kyla Woollard save a grizzly cub but it was shot by Fish and Wildlife.

In the meantime, Fish and Wildlife were informed the women had the bear and threatened them with jail if they didn’t hand it over.

Government officials showed up in Grande Cache with a representative from the Solicitor General’s office, just to make that point clear.

The women were assured by Fish and Wildlife that they would take care of the animal. Then Fish and Wildlife took the cub away and shot it. They claimed it was too emaciated to survive; Gienger and Woodard are doubtful about that claim and for good reason.

Click to play video: 'Grizzly bear cub euthanized in central Alberta'
Grizzly bear cub euthanized in central Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: Grizzly bear cub euthanized in central Alberta

For decades, licenced wildlife rehabilitation centres were allowed to rescue a full range of orphaned animals.

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The policy was changed in 2010 and in the years after, 24 bear cubs — including three grizzly cubs — were killed by Fish and Wildlife officers by 2016.

It came to a head last year when three black bear cubs found in Banff Park couldn’t be helped here and had to be sent to a centre in Ontario, and after the Springbank bear showed up with an injured leg, and Fish and Wildlife refused to let anyone step in to help.

After a huge public outcry, the Alberta Government announced that it would allow licenced wildlife rehabilitation centres to accept orphaned black bear cubs again, but not orphaned grizzly cubs.

What makes this situation even more nonsensical is the great lengths advocacy groups like Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) have gone through to make people aware of the threatened status of Alberta grizzlies.

They estimate there are only 760 grizzlies in Alberta. CPAWs says we need to protect more habitat, stop development, establish the Yukon-to-Yellowstone initiative to prevent further fragmentation of landscapes, address illegal hunting and poaching.

They are even opposed to the Olympics because of the stress it would put on grizzly habitat.

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Seems to me, one of the more obvious ways to improve the grizzly population is for Fish and Wildlife officers to stop shooting orphaned grizzly cubs.

Either we care about restoring grizzly populations or we don’t. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips intervened before to direct her ministry to change an idiotic policy. She should do it again.

Danielle Smith is host of  The Danielle Smith Show on Global News Radio 770 Calgary. She can be reached at

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