Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Province resists calls to search for bear cubs

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TWO groups are demanding Manitoba Conservation officials try to recapture two bear cubs returned to the wild.

But a government spokeswoman said Wednesday the request is not being considered and may not be possible.

The bears weren't tagged when they were released in a remote location last week and can't be tracked, she said.

Rene Dubois of St. Malo, a retired construction worker, found the five-week-old cub starving in a ditch along a highway in March. When he phoned a conservation officer, he was told the cub would be destroyed, so Dubois took him home to nurse him back to health.

A week later, conservation officers seized the bear and placed him at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo. A heated debate ensued about his future.

Animal advocates wanted him to go to a sanctuary in Ontario to mature before being released next year. On June 19, conservation officials announced Makoon and another rescued cub had been released in a remote location.

A rally was planned for last night outside the zoo to force the issue.

Winnipeg Humane society spokeswoman Aileen White admits the odds aren't good the two cubs can be found, but she wants the province to try.

She said supporters of the bears also want to see pictures of them being released back into the wild -- proof the animals weren't secretly destroyed.

"There is this concern and people are wanting to see the pictures," she said. "We're being ignored and denied on so many fronts, it's stupefying."

The government spokeswoman said conservation officials have always wanted the best for the animals and the cubs were indeed released back into the woods, although there are no photos to prove it.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2012 B3

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