Lands and Forestry defends killing bear cub it seized from Hope For Wildlife
HALIFAX -- One of the region's most-celebrated wildlife advocates says it's time Nova Scotia caught up with the rest of the country in allowing the rehabilitation of black bears.
A tiny cub was recently dropped off at Hope For Wildlife, but the animal was quickly picked up and killed by wildlife officials.
Now, there's a growing movement to make sure something like that doesn't happen again.
Hope Swinimer's celebrated animal rehab facility in Seaforth, N.S., is closed to the public, but is still busy accepting drop-offs of orphaned and injured animals.
There are plenty of young ones to care for this spring, but Swinimer wishes she had one more animal in her care -- a bear cub she only had for a few hours.
The scrawny little bear cub had been dropped off in the middle of the night.
Other than being lethargic and dehydrated, the animal was in pretty good shape -- an indication she was orphaned relatively recently.
"We did the initial exam," Swinimer said. "Was born probably January or February, but very small for a normal bear cub that age. It was a little girl. And we went forward from there by contacting Lands and Forestry."
Authorities from the department arrived a half hour later. The animal was removed and quickly euthanized.
Nova Scotia is among the last provinces in Canada that has no a no-rehab policy for black bears, although Swinimer says she's been offering the service for years, and even has a state-of-the-art enclosure on the premises.
"We certainly have the facility -- it's a beautiful facility," Swinimer said. "We have the staff, and we have veterinarians and a hospital right on board. I know we could do a good job."
Others think so, too.
An online petition has been launched in recent weeks, already picking up thousands of signatures.
For its part, the province says "public safety" is the priority, and any interaction with people can be unpredictable.
"Relocation of bears is not a viable option, as they will likely have the same issues elsewhere," Lisa Jarrett, a spokesperson for the Department of Lands and Forestry said in an email. "With this in mind, and because Nova Scotia has a healthy and abundant bear population, there is no conservation rationale for rehabilitating bears in Nova Scotia."
Swinimer says it's not just about conservation and a healthy population.
"Our work is to teach people to care about nature, so they have more respect for it, a better understanding of it, and will learn to live with it more comfortably," Swinimer said.
The department says it will reach out to Swinimer to discuss the policy, but she says previous discussions haven't really gone anywhere.
She hopes this time, the memory of a little orphaned bear might be enough to change that.