In 2004 I was involved in a ‘save the cubs’ campaign on the North Shore, very much like the one playing out in Errington at this present time, minus social media.
Our conservation officer killed a yearling cub and a cub of the year with a lethal injection of a tranquilizer drug, kids and media watching.
A short time later another cub of the year was rescued by a District of North Vancouver park ranger and myself and then he too was killed in front of us because he was deemed ‘habituated’ and ‘food conditioned’ by the powers that be in Victoria.
That was the straw that broke the public confidence in the conservation officer service (COS) to do the right and humane thing. Intuitively, the public understand what we in the bear world know to be true: cubs of the year (COY) are not ‘habituated’ to humans forever or ‘food conditioned’ to garbage forever if rehabbed properly and given a remote location release.
This has been proven time and time again over many years with thousands of cubs of the year being successfully released around the world regardless of their early experience before 12 months of age.
There are many experts who have compiled and reported on the data and the Ministry of the Environment have these reports.
So why do they not set policy which reflects known science? Why does the COS create such a long, drawn-out media frenzy over two tiny cubs? It boggles my mind. Here we are 11 years later fighting again to save cubs from a senseless kill order at the same time fighting to save a man’s career in the public service?
Many, many undiscovered orphan cubs in B.C. are left to die as a result of the spring bear hunt, vehicle strikes, industrial development and nuisance mothers.
When we, as a community, learn about a few token cubs that can be rescued and taken to a privately funded, non-profit rehabilitation facility we expect that to happen without drama or spectacle. All we ask of the government is to let us bring a tiny bit of fairness to a tiny newborn bear in an increasingly unfair world.
Barbara Murray, B.C. Bear AdvocateNanoose Bay