Alberta has rescued its first black bear under a new policy that allows for private rehabilitation of orphaned or abandoned cubs.
Officials with the province said the bear was rescued Wednesday by Fish and Wildlife officers in southwestern Alberta.
“It was down by Coleman, north of Coleman,” said Paul Frame, a provincial carnivore specialist with Alberta Environment. “Some people were random camping and this little bear wandered into camp.
“He was rooting around in some fire pits and it looked like he was searching for food.”
The campers kept an eye on him for several hours before they called officers.
Frame said an officer went out and watched the cub for a little longer to determine whether the mother would return.
“He determined it was alone,” he said. “We’re not sure if it was orphaned or if it was abandoned.
“He’s pretty small, so a lot of times mother bears will have numerous cubs and sometimes the runts will get left behind.”
The cub was to be transported northwest of Calgary to the Cochrane Ecological Institute, which recently received a permit to rehabilitate bear cubs.
“They were ready for it,” said Frame.
A ban on rehabilitating black bears was lifted by the province in April after being in place since 2010. It allows wildlife staff to work with private facilities on the rehabilitation of cubs that are less than a year old.
Frame said he’s hopeful for the cub.
“I’m interested and curious on how it’s going to go,” he said, adding that he just presented the new policy to bear experts at a conference in Colorado. “It got pretty good reception from folks.”
The policy doesn’t allow for the rehabilitation of grizzly cubs, which became a concern earlier this month when a bear was killed by wildlife officers in Grande Cache after it was found on its own by two local residents.
Frame said they are reviewing whether to add grizzlies to the policy.
“Grizzly bears are different. They have a different life history and they require more care,” he said. “But we are looking into it.
“There’s a facility in B.C. that has over 10 years handled 21 grizzly bears.”
Frame said they are talking to the B.C. government to see if they will amend the policy to allow out-of-province bears to be brought to the facility.