Saskatchewan provincial wildlife manager Chuck Lees told Global News he expected the transition to happen at some point on Wednesday.
“We’ve done a fair amount of work, talking to our colleagues across Canada and to rehab facilities and have been unable to find a home, [so] the Saskatoon Forestry Farm has agreed to rehabilitate these bears,” Lees said.
As an accredited zoo, the Saskatoon facility has trained professionals, veterinary services and quarantine capabilities for the bears. The changeover can be done without adding any new staff and by occupying currently empty space, Lees said.
Officials will be working with a “long-term goal of getting these bears back into the wild,” according to Lees.
Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation received the bears on Monday, and was granted permission to try to move the bears out of province for rehabilitation. They were found orphaned on the Coté First Nation.
The Saskatoon rehabilitation group had a deadline of Thursday to find a home for the cubs. Jan Shadick with Living Sky feared the bears might be euthanized.
“I’m glad that we’ve been able to come to this outcome,” Lees said.
According to animal rights group Zoocheck, moving the bears out of province would be difficult and mired in red tape.
“It’s hard on the cubs stress-wise to be transported over long distances,” Zoocheck campaigns director Julie Woodyer said.
Before the province made its decision, Mark Dallyn of Healing Haven Wildlife Rescue said his facility north of Meadow Lake, Sask., needed some time.
Within one month, Dallyn said Healing Haven’s 5,000 square-foot expansion project could be complete. Alternatively, he said the facility could have received the bears in a matter of days once a yearling is released.
At its current size, though, Healing Haven is limited to two bear cubs at one time.
Lees said it’s not known how long the bears will stay at the zoo before their release. Typically, bears need 14 months of rehabilitation when orphaned at this age.
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