Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the Day

Keep cub until winter

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Re: Send Makoon to sanctuary, thousands urge (May 5). As someone who has followed Makoon's story with great interest and concern, I hope that Manitoba Conservation will have the foresight to release this cub at its "appropriate stage of development."

Over the past few weeks, I have contacted other experts in the field, those most knowledgeable and experienced in the rehabilitation of bear cubs. The Idaho Black Bear Society, The Critter Care Wildlife Society in B.C. and the Cochrane Ecological Institute in Alberta are among those organizations that responded, each indicating that a June release date will spell certain disaster for this cub.

Introducing cubs back into the wild before they have had an opportunity to mature and learn necessary survival skills is a sure recipe for failure. Sows remain with their cubs for a year to 18 months, allowing their young ample time to mature and learn to forage for food, fish, climb trees, find winter dens and recognize and escape predators. Each organization I contacted indicated that cubs should never be released until early winter (denning time).

A great number of bear cubs are orphaned due to human interference, and there is simply no need to kill them. Euthanizing these young animals when they can otherwise be successfully raised and released or transported to other provinces for rehabilitation is an archaic and unacceptable practice.

At present, Manitoba has two wildlife rehabilitation facilities with a small base of highly trained and experienced staff and volunteers. Although these organizations are not funded by government, many of these hard-working and dedicated people have trained rigorously to meet international wildlife rehabilitation standards. They operate under the licensing of Manitoba Conservation, and to date, no permits have been issued to allow these facilities to raise bear cubs.

Manitoba Conservation officials, zoo staff and wildlife rehabilitation facilities all need to make an effort to welcome each other to the table respectfully. Only then can effective and progressive policies be introduced that would ensure the future of Manitoba's orphaned cubs.

JANETTE SLACK

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 14, 2012 A11

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