Baby bears found in rest stop bathroom near Banff
Parks Canada wardens were alerted after three black bear cubs were found locked in a rest stop bathroom near Banff on April 1st.
The call came from the Vermillion Lakes pull off from a traveler who walked in on the little animals.
The cubs weigh four to six pounds each and wardens believe they are only about three months old, far too young to be away from their mother, but she is nowhere to be found.
“We conducted extensive patrols of the area over the next 36 hours looking for signs of the mother and looking for bear activity in the area as well,” said Sheila Luey, Parks Canada.
The cubs are being bottle-fed right now but staff members are trying to keep contact to a minimum so that they don’t get too used to humans.
“Normally young bears stay with Mom for the first year. That is how they learn to fend for themselves,” said Luey. "They don't have the benefit of that. That gets them off to a rough start.”
The cubs will remain in the custody of Parks Canada for a little while longer, but they are not set up to keep them long-term.
“The other thing we are focusing on very hard right now is finding a place for these cubs to go because at this point it doesn’t seem likely that we are going to reunite them with their mother,” she said. “Either a rehabilitation facility or a certified zoo.”
The Cochrane Ecological Institute is one such place, as it has been taking in and rehabilitating orphaned animals since 1985, however it is not approved to handle bears or bobcats.
“We could if the park were to apply under Alberta legislation for a temporary shelter permit,” said Clio Smeeton, Cochrane Ecological Institute. “The legislation is here to make it possible, the facility is here to make it possible, the bears are orphaned.”
Smeeton said the facility has rehabilitated and released 18 bears in the past, and she believes these bears would be well cared for at the facility. She hopes the province makes a decision that leads to the bears being released, rather than spending their lives in a zoo or being euthanized.