Three bear cubs found by a tourist in a Banff rest stop arrived in Ontario Saturday night.
“They’ve been fed a couple times already and they’re in great shape and spunky and seem to be adapting well,” said Howard Smith with the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.
The bears arrived at around 5 p.m. in Toronto after taking a Westjet flight from Kelowna. They were met by the sanctuary’s team, which includes a wildlife veterinarian.
Despite the successful transport of the bears, the sanctuary said the Alberta government added long delays and stress to the cubs’ trip.
“The Alberta government would not issue Parks Canada an export permit to allow them to fly out of Calgary,” Smith said. “As a result, they had a five hour trip through the mountains to Kelowna to fly out of there.”
In an interview with Global News on April 11, the executive director for fish and wildlife policy at Alberta Environment and Parks said the rehabilitation of black bears is not allowed in Alberta.
“Our policy in Alberta is that we don’t allow the rehabilitation of bears,” Travis Ripley said. “There’s several factors [why]. There’s already a very high population of bears in the province and the protocols aren’t in line in Alberta right now to make sure bears aren’t placed in a habituated situation.”
Ripley suggested wild adult bears will also kill rehabilitated bears that lack natural instincts and enter the other bear’s territory.
But Smith said the bears will be rehabilitated and returned to Banff in about a year’s time.
“The only condition we could take them under is that they would be rehabilitated and go back to Banff,”Smith said. “Because it’s federal land the provincial rules don’t apply, but unfortunately they have to go out the back door, it’s silly really.”