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Black bear cub with 'severe neurological disease' euthanized in Banff


A black bear cub with signs of neurological disease was euthanized in Banff last week.

The year-old black bear cub was found wandering alone on Banff’s Bow Valley Parkway and had “extremely poor body condition” and showed “signs of severe neurological disease,” according to a statement from Parks Canada.

The female cub was euthanized by parks staff on May 9.

“Due to the cub’s age and poor health status, rehabilitation was not a viable option,” read a statement shared by Parks Canada Thursday.

“This was the most humane action to take for the sake of the animal.”

Parks Canada said the signs of neurological disease were expected of an animal that is emaciated, severely dehydrated and close to the end of its life.

“As with any wildlife that is found deceased or euthanized in the national park, a complete necropsy will be performed on the cub by a licensed wildlife veterinarian,” Parks Canada said.

“At the present time there is no evidence that the cub’s condition reflects broader disease-related concerns in or for Banff National Park’s black bear population.”

In some cases, cubs can be placed with rehabilitation groups, but staff determined that with its extremely poor body condition, dehydration and anemia, survival was very unlikely.

Black bear cubs usually leave their mothers later in their second year.

In an unrelated case, Parks Canada also recently euthanized a collared male adult black bear after increasing problems with it foraging around busy parts of the Banff townsite. Parks said the public safety risk was growing too high, in a statement.

In recent years, researchers in California have been watching cases of black bears showing symptoms of neurological disease, particularly in the area of Lake Tahoe.

The cause is still a mystery, but is still relatively rare and does not appear to be impacting populations.

Viral infections including bird flu can sometimes lead to neurological effects. One bear in California also showed traces of the rodent poison bromethalin.

When asked if further tests were planned to determine a cause for the cub’s symptoms, Parks Canada said “there are no additional concerns at this time” and that the neurological symptoms were consistent with its poor health.

Black bears are a widespread and common species in Alberta and populations in North America have grown in recent decades.

Another neurological disease – chronic wasting disease – has grown rapidly in deer species in Alberta over the past two decades. It is caused by a misshapen protein called a prion that creates a cascading effect on the animal’s brain leading to death.

There is nothing to indicate any relation between the cases. While young animals can become infected, prion diseases typically take years to develop to the fatal stage. Top Stories

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