Bizarre and tragic news out of Banff. Three black bear cubs of the year were found trapped in a public washroom along the Trans Canada Highway. The circumstances are unclear at this point, but similar to the Blaze tragedy in Yellowstone in 2014, there is now an urgent need to find a rehabilitation facility so that one day they can return to the wild in Banff. Certainly that facility is most likely Northern Lights Wildlife Society in BC, a facility that is accredited, and respected around the world. We sincerely hope that typical jurisdictional challenges that plague quick and obvious solutions in this country don’t become an issue in this case. We urge Canadians, and especially British Columbians to contact their elected officials and urge quick cooperation in order to create the best possible outcome.
This is not about partisanship, this is about common sense, so let’s all do our part.
Banff has provided an update on the black bear cubs that were recently found orphaned in a public washroom and a final decision on their fate has not yet been made. Though options are available to rehabilitate and re-release the cubs without any cost to the taxpayer, it appears that jurisdictional red tape remains the major barrier to a positive resolution. We continue to urge our Canadian followers to reach out to their elected officials, especially in BC, and request that they take the action needed to ensure that these bears return to the wild.
More news on the orphaned black bear cubs in Banff: Global News is reporting that the major barrier in rehabilitating the cubs is where they will be released. As we’ve highlighted since the outset, Canada is a nation fraught with conflicting jurisdictions and it appears that once more red tape might prevent a happy ending to this story.
Despite reports that have suggested BC has been behind blocking the rehabilitation of the bears, it appears the bigger challenge is actually the province of Alberta, who banned rehabilitated bears from being released into the province. Though Banff National Park is federal jurisdiction, it’s extremely unlikely a bear will adhere to man-made boundaries. And, we assume, given that Banff requires support from Alberta on a host of issues (including the reintroduction of the bison), the park is stuck between a rock and hard place.
It’s clear Canada (and the United States) needs a national policy on rehabilitating wildlife. Established science and precedence should rule the day, not politics or emotion. But this is the long game. To help these orphaned cubs right now, Alberta needs to be onside with Parks Canada re-releasing these bears in Banff.
Let’s make this an issue.
If you live in Alberta, please contact your MLA. If you live outside of the province, write to the Alberta government and the Canadian government and request that they work together to resolve this issue.
We don’t get to celebrate good news often enough when it comes to nature, but today we get to do just that.
For the last week, we have been telling you about the plight of three orphaned black bear cubs found in a Banff National Park restroom. We’ve urged you to make your voice heard, asking decision makers to not let jurisdictional red tape block a happy ending to this bizarre story.
Today, Banff National Park has announced that the cubs will be moved to Aspen Valley in Ontario in order to be rehabilitated and re-released into the wild.
Though two rehabilitation facilities – Northern Lights Wildlife Society and Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary – came forward to take the bears, what should have been an easy solution was anything but. There were issues with BC and Ontario granting permits to transport out of province animals into their (non-taxpayer funded) facilities. And then there was the issue of where to release the cubs after rehabilitation. Even if Banff National Park was willing to take the bears back, the province of Alberta could have blocked their release, as they prohibit rehabilitated animals from being returned to the wild.
But thanks to the incredible work of Parks Canada and so many people behind the scenes – as well as every single person who made their voice heard – these hurdles were overcome. The orphaned black bears will one day be returned to where they belong: The wild.
This was never the biggest issue facing the world, nor the environment. But in succeeding with something so obvious, it should give us all hope that the systems that frustrate us are still, ultimately, our systems. And when we all work together to improve them, positive change is well within our grasp.
Does this issue still present questions? Yes. We still need a simple and coherent national policy for trans-boundary wildlife rehabilitation so that institutions like Northern Lights Wildlife Society can focus on their critical work, not red tape.
And are the bigger challenges facing wildlife still daunting? Absolutely. In British Columbia, there is a need to create places where wildlife comes first in a province that remains the only jurisdiction without true wildlife sanctuaries (a problem underscored today by the death of one of Banff’s wolves that wandered into BC and was shot).
Yet the concerns of tomorrow shouldn’t dampen the happiness and gratitude of today. We hope you’ll join us in thanking everyone who made it possible for three orphaned black bears to return to the wild. Unlike Yellowstone National Park’s decision in 2015 to not rehabilitated the orphaned cubs of the grizzly bear known as Blaze, Parks Canada was able to find enough cooperation from enough governments to ensure the right decision was made.
So while a couple of animals aren’t as important as an entire species and while this success won’t change the world, three bears will now be allowed to be wild and free, just as nature intended. And that’s worth celebrating. After all, we never know when a single small success can be the turning point that fuels all of society to take a giant leap forward in creating a better world for all life. At least here’s hoping that this is our moment.
With thanks for giving these bears a voice,
Simon & Jill