Bear cub killing prompts calls for policy change

This black bear cub was killed by a Conservation Officer on May 5. Photo credit: Tiana Jackson

This black bear cub was killed by a Conservation Officer on May 5. Photo credit: Tiana Jackson

Wildlife Defence League (WDL) is disturbed by recent news of the euthanasia of yet another orphaned black bear cub by a B.C. conservation officer.

On May 5th, Tiana Jackson found the cub abandoned on a road near Dawson Creek and after finding no evidence of the cub’s mother being in the vicinity, Tiana contacted the Conservation Office and took the cub home to await an officer’s arrival. In the meantime, Tiana reached out to Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers who said they would be able to accommodate the cub.

Despite this arrangement, the conservation officer decided the cub was not suitable for rehabilitation and opted to euthanize the animal right then and there. Tiana was horrified, as are many others after learning of this young cub’s story. Yet, the Ministry of Environment stands by its decision. 

In a statement to the National Observer, the Ministry outlined the existing provincial legislation:

“Determining suitability for bear cub rehabilitation is made using several factors including: health or injury, level of habituation, level of food conditioning, and conflict history. When necessary they are made in consultation between the provincial wildlife veterinarian, regional ministry wildlife biologists, and the conservation officer’s supervisor, taking into account all facts available at the time. Current procedures allow for bear cubs of the year to be rehabilitated at an approved facility if they are determined to be good candidates.”

The public and the Conservation Officer Service are increasingly at odds over how to deal with orphaned cubs, reflecting the need for change at the policy level. WDL is joining the call for tighter provincial regulations regarding the use of euthanasia in dealing with wildlife encounters and that all cubs be assessed for their suitability for rehabilitation by a veterinarian or wildlife rehabber. In addition, we’re urging the provincial government to fund wildlife rehabilitation facilities instead of leaving it to the public to care for cubs orphaned by the province’s spring bear hunt or through other such tragedies.

It’s time that wildlife rehabilitation be fully embraced as a legitimate option for the Conservation Officer Service. We encourage our supporters to join us in making this request. Click here to find contact info for your MLA and let them know how you feel about this issue. Please also make the same request of the Minister of Environment, Mary Polak, via mary.polak.mla@leg.bc.ca and Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Steve Thomson, via FLNR.minister@gov.bc.ca.