Pair of surviving Banff bathroom bears adapting to new wilderness home

Three black bear cubs found in a Vermilion Lakes washroom in April 2017 have been returned to Banff National Park. Photo by Parks Canada

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From the bathroom to the backcountry, two orphaned black bear cubs rescued from a public restroom two years ago seem to have successfully re-established themselves in Banff National Park, officials say.

The two sisters were among a trio of three-month-old bear cubs mysteriously abandoned in a public restroom at the Vermilion Lakes rest stop in April 2017, and were sent to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario in hopes they could successfully be reintroduced into the wild.

Last July, the yearling cubs were returned to the Banff wilds, though within weeks one was killed and eaten by a suspected grizzly bear.

The remaining two, however, managed to avoid a similar fate and hunkered down in dens to hibernate over the winter months.

Blair Fyten, human wildlife coexistence officer with Parks Canada, said there had been some initial concern in the spring that the now two-year-old adolescents had met with an untimely end.

“When they came out of their dens in the spring, one of the collars went into mortality mode,” he said, noting the tracking collars begin emitting the specialized signal when they are stationary for more than six hours.

“A couple of weeks later, mortality mode went on on the second one.”

Orphaned bear cubs pictured at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario. ASPEN VALLEY WILDLIFE SANCTUARY FACEBOOK

While it took some time to get wildlife officers into the remote area, when they arrived they discovered the bears had managed to shrug off the collars and venture off, free from overt human monitoring.

The collars had initially been set to fall off on their own at the end of summer, but given the bruins were somewhat heavier than their wild counterparts due to their time in the sanctuary, it’s likely they slipped easily out of the tracking gear after losing weight while hibernating, Fyten said.

“We found the collars, but there were no signs of carcasses or predation,” he said.

“The good news is we think these bears are roaming around out there doing what bears do.”

The presumably surviving cubs remain tagged and officials hope they will eventually trip one of the many wildlife cameras that dot the national park to confirm the bears are indeed healthy and thriving.

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Fyten said despite the positive signs, the duo still face an uphill battle, as do all young bears who strike out from their mothers for the first time.

“It is an age where they are out on their own but they are still somewhat vulnerable at two years old,” he said.

“When you look in a natural setting, a female with three cubs, it’s pretty rare all will survive.”

Fyten said roughly 65 black bears are active in the lush valley bottoms in Banff National Park, where they spend much of their days foraging for berries, which have seen a bumper crop this year.

The optimal conditions for bear feeding has also resulted in a bump in black bear sightings by humans this year, he said.

“It’s been super busy with all kinds of bear activity,” he said, noting grizzly bears, which tend to dwell higher in the park’s mountain rangers, have been quieter than usual.

“Last year we had a very good berry crop, so we’ve seen a lot of cubs getting kicked out by their mothers and trying to find their way.”

slogan@postmedia.com

Should the Calgary Stampede ban animal events?

Calgary Stampede events, like steer wrestling, don’t put the animals first, says a spokesperson with the Vancouver Humane Society. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Should the Calgary Stampede ban animal events?

Some rodeo events are a form of animal abuse, critic says

An animal activist is calling on veterinarians to stop supporting the Calgary Stampede.

Those who put on cowboy hats and work at the annual rodeo event are “turning a blind eye to animal abuse,” said Peter Fricker, communications director for the Vancouver Humane Society.

In an opinion piece for CBC News, Fricker said some of the activities at the Stampede cause the animals involved distress and discomfort.

Events like calf roping and steer wrestling also put them at risk of getting hurt, he said.

The Calgary Stampede is an event organized each year by a not-for-profit group — and put on with the help of thousands of volunteers — as a way to preserve and celebrate “western heritage, cultures and community spirit,” its website says.

That includes a number of traditional rodeo events.

Man holds rope in his mouth while he wrangles a calf.

Some critics say rodeo events like calf roping put the animals at risk of getting hurt. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

What do the vets say?

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is against activities that cause suffering to animals that would otherwise be avoidable, president Terri Chotowetz said in an email.

She said her group supports those veterinarians who are working to “safeguard animal welfare” at the Stampede, she said.

It’s not up to the CVMA to set the laws around how animals are used in sport or entertainment, Chotowetz said, but she encourages governments to keep working to improve the rules.

Man in cowboy hat holds cow by the horns.

A note on the Calgary Stampede website says event organizers are committed to treating the animals with respect and care. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

What does the Stampede say?

The Calgary Stampede has one of the “most comprehensive animal care programs in North America,” said spokesperson Kristina Barnes, when asked to comment.

Organizers are constantly working with veterinarians in order to improve their practices, she said in an email.

They’re also careful to follow provincial and national regulations around the use of animals.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in.

https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/should-the-calgary-stampede-ban-animal-events

Your thoughts
What’s your first name?

Alberta: Coyote gets stuck in car’s grille after being hit on highway – released…

AIRDRIE, Alta. – An Alberta woman says she was shocked when she found a
coyote she thought she’d struck and killed on the highway stuck in the
grille of her car.

Georgie Knox was driving to work in Calgary from her home in Airdrie last
week when the animal darted in front of her vehicle.

She says she heard a “crunch” and thought she’d run the animal over and
killed it.

But when she stopped at a traffic light near Calgary’s Foothills Hospital, a
construction worker pointed out the young coyote was lodged in her grille
and alive.

Knox called provincial fish and wildlife officers to help.

They managed to remove the animal, found it had only suffered minor injuries
and released it in the foothills west of Calgary.

Knox told CTV she felt bad when she realized the coyote had been embedded in
her grille for almost 35 kilometres at highway speeds.

“I felt horrible when I realized I took him with me all the way from
Airdrie. I thought he must be suffering and was going to die, so I was very
upset.”

She was astounded at the outpouring of concern.

“It was amazing just to see all kinds of people come together to save this
pup’s life. The construction workers, 311 dispatchers, (Calgary Police
Service) and finally the Wildlife Enforcement Department.”

Her story has gone viral on Facebook. It’s been shared tens of thousands of
times.

Knox said her experience has sparked a discussion about whether people
should be stopping to check on a wild animal they have hit on a busy
highway.

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/09/12/coyote-gets-stuck-in-cars-grille-after
being-hit-on-highway

Bow Valley wolf pack down to 2 after male killed by hunters in B.C.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/bow-valley-wolf-pack-male-killed-1.4071142

Wildlife specialist says he expects pack’s population near Banff will stabilize despite low numbers

CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2017 10:40 AM MT Last Updated: Apr 14, 2017 10:40 AM MT

The Bow Valley wolf pack near the Banff townsite is down to two members after a two-year-old male was shot and killed by hunters in B.C. after leaving the park.

The Bow Valley wolf pack near the Banff townsite is down to two members after a two-year-old male was shot and killed by hunters in B.C. after leaving the park. (Parks Canada)

A wildlife specialist in Banff National Park has hopes the Bow Valley wolf pack will recover after one of its three members was shot and killed by a hunter in B.C. last month.

The two-year-old wolf, known as 1502, was equipped with a tracking collar when it left the park and headed west.

“It’s typical for a wolf around that age to go on a dispersal like that as they find a new territory for themselves and join another pack or form another pack on their own,” said Steve Michel, a Parks Canada human-wildlife conflict specialist.

Wolf 1502 travelled more than 500 linear kilometres until he reached the West Kootenay area where he was killed near Trout Lake, B.C., at the end of March.

There are now two wolves remaining in the Bow Valley pack — an alpha male and a two-year-old female, which would be the sibling to wolf 1502.

Last year, Parks Canada staff estimated the pack had at least nine wolves in the spring. A few months later, staff at the park were forced to put down an alpha female after it exhibited concerning behaviour.

Shortly after, four wolf pups were killed by trains in two separate incidents. Later in the summer, park staff shot a second wolf that had been acting boldly around people at campgrounds.

Wolf populations fluctuate

Michel said despite last year’s devastation of the pack, population numbers are constantly fluctuating and he expects the pack’s population will stabilize in some way in the future.

“Wolf populations are very dynamic,” he said. “The size of the pack is constantly changing, just as we talk about this wolf dispersing, there’s other wolves from other packs in other areas that are dispersing that might come and join in to the Bow Valley pack as well.”

Overall, Michel said, the wolf population in Banff National Park is healthy, but being so close to a busy developed area like the Banff townsite, the Bow Valley wolf pack is constantly under pressure.

“We’ve seen before, in this portion of the park and the Bow Valley, we’ve seen packs completely die out and then a short time later, new packs form and take over similar territorial boundaries. We’ve seen packs merge together, packs overtake other ones.”

“Wolf populations are very dynamic and they’re always in a state of flux.”

Alberta Wolf Kill and “Collateral Damage”‏

Besides the 1000 wolves at least 163 cougars have been killed, along with 38 wolverine, etc. It also demonstrates what happpens when you allow habitat degradation to occur.

http://www.raincoast.org/2015/01/alberta-wolf-slaughter/

Alberta slaughters more than 1,000 wolves and hundreds of other animals

WARNING:  THIS A DISTURBING ACCOUNT OF ANIMAL SUFFERING AND SLAUGHTER

Killing wolves for

Published on 2015 · 01 · 10 by Raincoast
Raincoast scientists Dr. Paul Paquet and Dr. Chris Darimont, along with colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan, have published the paper “Maintaining Ethical Standards during Conservation Crises” in the journal Canadian Wildlife Biology and Management.  It  addresses the ethics and science of the  Alberta wolf cull as published in Canadian Journal of Zoology, November 2014.
Download this paper: Brook et al 2015 CWBM
Download the press release
The wolf kill
For the last few years, Raincoast has been sounding the alarm about the slaughter of wolves at the hands of the Alberta government.  This slaughter is a consequence of Alberta oil and gas development, and other industrial activities, that have endangered caribou.  The Alberta government and its resource industries have transformed the caribou’s boreal habitat into a landscape that can no longer provide the food, cover and security that these animals need to survive.  Rather than address this problem, Alberta has chosen to scapegoat wolves that are using a huge network of new roads and corridors to reach dwindling numbers of caribou.
For a decade now, the Alberta government has hired hitmen and biologists to kill wolves, more than 1,000 of them, through aerial gunning from helicopters, poisoning with strychnine, and allowing them to be strangled with neck snares.  They also trap and collar wolves that become “Judas wolves,” leading the gunners to the pack.  After shooting all but the collared wolf, the collared wolf then leads the gunners to more wolves and then watches as they too are slaughtered.
Not just wolves
In addition to aerial gunning, strychnine is set out to poison wolves.  Many other species that incidentally eat the poison also die. We do not have a death toll for the additional animals that died from poisoning. Neck snares, another form of torture and suffering, are also permitted.  Internal Alberta government documents show that up until 2012, neck snares were the primary cause of death for 676 animals, in addition to the wolves, around the Little Smokey region in Alberta. Note caribou, the reason for the wolf cull in the first place, are dying as incidental deaths in neck snares.
Number of animals/species that have died incidentally in Alberta’s wolf kill (up to 2012) near the Little Smokey region, primarily in neck snares.  Numbers obtained from internal Alberta government documents.
Black bear 12
Caribou 2
Cougar 163
Deer 62
Eagle (bald and golden) 40
Fisher 173
Fox 3
Grizzly bear 3
Goshawk 1
Lynx 70
Moose 12
Otter 73
Owls 12
Small mammals (marten, mink, skunk, squirrel, weasel) 12
Wolverine 38
TOTAL 676
Calling it science
In 2014, 5 authors (3 from Alberta government, 1 from University of Montana, 1 from University of Alberta) published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Zoology (CJZ) called Managing wolves to recover threatened caribou in Alberta.  This paper describes, condones, and implements the use of aerial gunning and strychnine poisoning as acceptable methods to undertake their study on caribou survival. Neck snares are not included in the journal study methods, despite their known use for killing wolves in the Little Smokey Region.
A response to this paper was published in the journal of Canadian Wildlife Biology and Management in February 2015  by Raincoast scientists and colleagues called “Maintaining Ethical Standards during Conservation Crises“.
The above response addresses the issue of ethics and animal welfare in science. Research on animals in Canadian universities and papers published in the CJZ must meet ethical standards from an animal care committee (nationally, the Canadian Council on Animal Care). Poisoning and aerial gunning (using Judas wolves)  do not meet these criteria.  Below is the call for proposal from the beginning of the study with the statement that the lethal methods being employed were approved according to protocols 008 and 009.  Also below are protocols 008 and 009 that show such activities are not permitted.  The objective of these protocols (specifically 9) is to enforce the humane treatment of animals and ensure minimal stress. In the event that a wolf is injured during a study it describes how euthanasia must occur.  A gun shot is explicit to extreme cases in close range where a single shot to the head causes instant death.  To imply such permits allow a wildlife slaughter is dishonest, at best.
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Additional files for download

Tell the Calgary Herald NO grizzly bear hunting

According to the Calgary Herald, a “debate” is surfacing (concocted and spurred on by the Herald itself) over whether to resume a hunt on grizzly bears in southwestern Alberta.

The grizzly recovery plan was put in place after studies found there were  fewer than 700 grizzlies left in Alberta, leading the government to declare the  species threatened.

Please vote NO in their poll and share your thoughts with the editorial board Here.

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson