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Group urges rehab for three Alberta grizzly cubs, upgrades to bear protection


BANFF, Alta. — A group of scientists and animal advocates wants the Alberta government to rehabilitate three orphaned grizzly cubs rather than allow them to be sent to zoos.

In an open letter to the government, the group expresses concerns about the cubs left alone when their mother was shot by a hunter in southwestern Alberta earlier this month.

The young bruins are being cared for at the Calgary Zoo and advocates say zoo officials intend to seek permanent homes for the cubs at other facilities across North America.

The letter — signed by 73 scientists, educators and conservationists from Alberta, British Columbia and outside Canada — says Alberta is ignoring its grizzly population.

It says grizzlies have been a threatened species in the province since 2010, and rehabilitation and release into the wild is the most humane solution for the cubs.

The group also urges Alberta to update a draft 2016 recovery plan for Alberta's grizzly population, noting the last plan covering habitat security and other bear protection issues expired seven years ago.

"Our group believes that rehabilitating these three orphaned cubs is a critical first step in revamping Alberta’s commitment to grizzly bear conservation and recovery," says the letter dated Wednesday.

The recent shooting of the mother bear in the Crowsnest Pass region, orphaning the three cubs, is "a stark reminder how quickly four healthy grizzly bears can tragically disappear from the landscape," it says.

Signatories include Christyann Olson, executive director of the Alberta Wilderness Association; Reno Sommerhalder, a grizzly specialist in Banff; and First Nations leaders, scientists, former national park wardens, backcountry guides, authors and artists from across Canada, the United States and Britain.

This story by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2020

The Canadian Press

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