By Marianne Curtis
A decision by the Department of Natural Resources to release a four week old bear cub rescued last month is St. Malo back into the wild within a few weeks is creating public outrage.
On April 13, the Manitoba government has decided a rescued bear cub, nicknamed Makoon, will be released back into the wild in June.
James Duncan with the province’s wildlife branch said officials discussed the fate of the black bear with animal experts and determined he could be rehabilitated and released.He said the animal will remain at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg for another seven or eight weeks.
Officials will then release the cub in a remote location of the province to boost its chances of survival, since adult male bears tend to prey on cubs.
Mike McIntosh, who runs Bear With Us Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Centre for bears in Sprucedale, Ont., says the cub is far too young to fend for itself. The organization stepped forward and offered to take the cub.
“It’s almost certainly a death sentence for a five-month-old bear cub,” stated McIntosh. “He would have a very slight chance of surviving in the wild.”
Bear cubs normally stay with their month for about eighteen months during which time she teaches them how to survive, eat and protect themselves. An online petition set up on a popular social networking site has set up asking the province to “do the right thing” and not release the cub at such a young age. Over 5,100 people have signed the petition located at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/makoon/.
Makoon’s controversial story began March 25 when Rene Dubois found the newborn black bear cub struggling to survive in a ditch sound of St. Malo. During the cub’s brief stay with the family he became quite the attraction.
“We had more people come visit the cub than we had after we had our children,” joked Dubois.
He admitted it was sad to see the cub go, but it was the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, the Department of Conservation does not recommend people take in lost or orphaned wildlife. Each year the department receives thousands of phone calls from people who have found infant wild animals that they believe are orphans. On average 500 injured or orphaned baby animals were admitted to the center, of which 80% were “unnecessary orphans.”
This little guy is currently under observation at the province`s only zoo, where he will stay until the province returns him into the wild in June.