Alberta Fish and Wildlife needs to seriously rethink how it manages injured and orphaned wildlife.
Last week, a woman in Sherwood Park had a young moose limp into her yard with a broken ankle. She tried to get Fish and Wildlife out to assess whether it could be rehabilitated and, if not, at least euthanized humanely.
Fish and wildlife did neither, and the homeowner watched in despair over 10 days as the moose slowly got weaker and died. Not exactly what you expect when you call government wildlife officers for help.
Then there is the story of the three bear cubs found in a bathroom in Banff.
They had to be shipped out to Ontario via BC, after it was revealed Alberta has a policy against releasing rehabilitated bears back into the wild. I guess we should be thankful the bears were found in a federal park. Presumably if mama bear was killed by hunters, or run over on provincial crown land, the official policy would be to just let her cubs starve to death.
I’ve also received several stories from listeners who report widely different responses when they’ve called in injured animal reports, mostly for deer.
Typically they are told to “let nature run its course,” no matter how cruel that is. If the caller asks if they can put down the animal themselves, they are told no. If they want to call in a rehabilitation centre for help, the centres are forbidden to in most cases, with the threat of losing their permits to operate.
It didn’t always used to be this way. Alberta has seven rehabilitation centres and Clio Smeeton has been involved with operating the Cochrane Ecological Institute for over 50 years. She told me stories of the success they have had in saving and releasing moose and bears back to the wild. But starting in 2010 the rules changed.
WATCH BELOW: Bear encounter in Banff highlights issue of human activity in animal habitat
They are now forbidden from accepting for rescue and release bighorn lambs, mountain goats and pronghorn antelope kids, elk calves, grizzly bears, black bears, wolf fox, coyote cubs, lynx, bobcats, skunks, raccoons and cougar kittens. With all these exclusions, you have to wonder if the government wants to save any distressed wildlife at all.
Considering most animals become orphaned or injured due to human causes, it seems preposterous that these private agencies, who operate with no government funding, wouldn’t be allowed to give these animals a fighting chance to survive.
What can you do to get the government to change its policy? Listen to my full interview with Clio Smeeton to find out.
If you want to know know more about reporting injured wildlife in Calgary click here.