Black Bear Management in Alberta

FACTS
CRI has rehabilitated Black Bear in Alberta since 1986

Orphaned black bear cubs, and other species of bear cub, have been
successfully reared and released into the wild for the past 30 years.

In Canada, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation is funded through public donations and successful Grant applications. No government money, Federal or Provincial, is spent on rearing orphaned bear cubs. 

Captive-rearing and release programmes have conservation implications that extend beyond the obvious welfare benefits to
individual animals. These include increased public support for conservation programmes, maintenance of genetic diversity in small isolated populations, and restoration of bears to previously unoccupied habit

Usually when the term habituation is used it is meant to imply that the bears are attracted to humans for food and other needs. However, bears that are fully habituated to humans ignore them.

It has been proven that wild bears are as likely to come into human/wildlife conflict situations as are captive-reared bears.  The key to preventing nuisance bears is to manage human impact to reduce bear attractant.

Bear Cubs, received under permit by the facility, are evaluated by the Veterinarian and if necessary, treated and cured.  Diseased cubs left in the wild may spread disease before their deaths.

What happens to Injured and Orphaned Black Bears

AESRD decided in 2010 to ban the rescue, rehabilitation and release of indigenous bear species (Black bears, Grizzly bears)..

AESRD spokes person, Darcy Whiteside  “…said that Fish and Wildlife does not have the facilities to house the larger animals that wildlife centres are required to hand over to them, so the animals will either be released back into the wild or euthanized immediately, depending on the severity of their injuries” (Rocky View Weekly March 2010)

“While they don’t have an example in Alberta of a rehabilitated animal injuring humans, Whiteside said: “I know there are examples in other jurisdictions of human-conditioned animals that have caused injury.”(Edmonton Journal, March 2010).

MYTHS
There are no facilities in Alberta to Rehabilitate Black Bear.

If you rescue and rear and orphaned bear cub, it won’t know enough to survive in the wild

The money spent on rescuing, rearing and releasing orphaned bear cubs would be better spent elsewhere.

Rescuing and rearing orphaned bear cubs is not a conservation action

Rearing orphaned bear cubs produces “habituated“ bears

Captive reared and released orphaned bear cubs will become “nuisance bears”

Accepting orphaned bear cubs for rehabilitation and release
might promote disease.

More information on Myths and Facts about Black Bear Rehabilitation and release can be downloaded below..

The Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Department, AESRD, under the 44 year reign of the Progressive Conservatives has had an unusual approach to wildlife conservation.

The Department’s focus has been on enabling industrial expansion, cutting back on wildlife conservation personnel, and on privatizing conservation field research.

As an example, there has been no Alberta-wide survey of Black bear numbers since one was undertaken using aerial survey photographs of  actual, potential, and transformed Black bear habitat in 1993, twenty two years ago. This survey extrapolated estimated Black bear numbers, based on research undertaken in Alberta’s different ecoregions in the 1970’s and 1980’s, onto the habitat & vegetation cover of aerial photographs taken in 1993. This action resulted in a population estimate of 40,000. (Alberta ESRD - Bear Management.htm).   In reality in 2015 we have no idea how many Black Bear there are in Albreta.

“In 1982, the government of Alberta published Fish and Wildlife Policy for Alberta which provides policy goals and a framework for the management of many species of wildlife. Comprehensive plans for bears were formulated in 1990 (grizzlies) and 1993 (black bears).” (Alberta ESRD - Bear Management.htm).

In contrast, in the USA, population numbers are known because black bear surveys are undertaken regularly on a State by State basis and also, on federal lands, by the federal government (Western Black Bear Workshop, 2015).