Motorists flock to view injured bear west of Calgary as rescue agency’s frustrations mount
An injured bear that has been in a field along Highway 22 for weeks has attracted curious onlookers and well-wishers to the highway’s shoulder as concerns grow regarding the safety of the animal.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife officials remain adamant that humans should not intervene in an attempt to help the wild animal. “Biologists and officers believe that this bear should be left alone,” said agency representatives in a statement to CTV. “There is a strong chance this bear will continue to heal in coming weeks as it hibernates.”
In addition to the traffic safety concerns, conservation officers fear someone may attempt to approach the juvenile bear, believed to be between 18 months and three years old. Even if an individual has the best of intentions, charges related to harassing wildlife would be considered and could result in a hefty fine.
“This may lead to a mandatory court appearance where fines are determined by the court and may range from $0 to $50,000,“ said Alberta Wish and Wildlife officials.
Clio Smeeton of the Cochrane Ecological Institute says concerns regarding interactions between the bear and the public would disappear if her organization was provided a permit authorizing a rescue. The institute is a government certified bear facility and Smeeton has been pressuring the province to approve the collection and treatment of the young bear for the last two weeks.
“It’s in the government’s hands,” said Smeeton. “They know they’ve approved the facilities. They know the facilities were built for bears. They can give us a temporary shelter permit and everyone will be happy, hopefully, if it’s not too late (for the bear).”
Smeeton refers to the government’s inaction on the issuing of a permit as ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ against the animal. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“We want it. We will take it. We have the facilities and the expertise to take it,” said Smeeton. “But they are the ones that have to say here’s the permit.”
With files from CTV's Kevin Green