Nova Scotia rejects wildlife sanctuary proposal to rehabilitate orphaned black bear cubs


Nova Scotia denied a request for a wildlife sanctuary to be allowed to care for orphaned black cubs and then release them into the wild.

“This is very, very sad news… we’ve been trying to make changes for quite some time, since we started 25 years ago,” Hope Swinimer, founder of Hope for Wildlife, told CBC. Information morning Thursday.

“It would be our dream to be able to rehabilitate all of Nova Scotia’s native wildlife.

Nova Scotia is one of the few provinces and territories not to rehabilitate black bears who are injured, or cubs if they are orphans.

The Land and Forestry Department says bears could become dangerous if they become too comfortable with human contact during rehabilitation and are then released into the wild.

The department instead euthanized the bears, a decision that fueled controversy in June 2020, when an orphaned black bear cub was abducted from Hope for Wildlife and destroyed.

About a month later, Swinimer submitted a proposal to the provincial government, requesting permission to rehabilitate orphaned black bear cubs.

The proposal outlined their rehabilitation plan, including what the enclosures would look like, how the cubs would be fed, and even how the sanctuary would keep the animal wild by limiting contact with humans.

“It has been proven – as with most animals – if you follow certain procedures and generally give that animal one or two keepers, they will become familiar with those one or two people, but no one else,” Swinimer said. .

The proposal also suggested a one-year pilot project that would rehabilitate orphaned cubs and then track their movements and contact with humans once released.

Hope Swinimer, pictured, is the founder of Hope for Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Seaforth, Nova Scotia. She says black bear cubs can be safely rehabilitated and released to Nova Scotia. (David Laughlin / CBC)

Yet his proposal was turned down on Wednesday.

“Our geographic size, coupled with typical bear behavior and biology, does not allow bears to be rehabilitated and released into the wild in a manner that provides an acceptable level of risk,” a statement sent by courier said. electronic by the Ministry of Lands and Forests.

“Once bears lose their fear of humans, they become unpredictable and pose a public safety concern. “

Swinimer disagrees. She said research across Canada shows black bear cubs can be safely rehabilitated and released without posing a threat to the public.

About three years ago, Swinimer said Hope for Wildlife successfully rehabilitated a black bear cub before it was transferred to New Brunswick for release.

Information morning – NS9:08Province rejects Hope for Wildlife’s proposal to rehabilitate orphaned black bear cubs

In Nova Scotia, if an orphaned black bear cub is reported to Lands and Forestry, their policy is to euthanize the bear cub. Now the province has rejected a proposal from Hope for Wildlife to rehabilitate these cubs and put them back in the wild. We hear Hope Swinemar. 9:08

Unfortunately, she says, the bear escaped during the transfer and had to be euthanized in New Brunswick.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t go well, but we have certainly proven our ability to keep a wild animal,” she said.

Swinimer said she agreed that geographically, Nova Scotia is “small and fragmented” and lacks large wilderness areas to release animals.

“It works against us, but I think it’s something we can overcome,” she said.

Swinimer said she requested the department’s research into the dangers of black bear rehabilitation – to compare with her own research – but it was not provided.

She said she was disappointed with the result.

“We think we have the capacity. We definitely have the expertise… we have the space,” she said. “We have to know how, so I really wish we had had the opportunity.”

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