Ministry of Forests says bear cubs approved for release program

Two bear cubs at the centre of a controversy over a decision not to destroy them are approved for a cub rearing and release program

In an ironic twist, the Gazette learned Friday that baby bears Jordan and Athena, who have been at the heart of two-month controversy, were approved as candidates for the orphaned bear cub rearing and release program by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in August. According to Vivian Thomas, communications director with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the decision to approve the cubs was based on additional information that was received from the property owner in Port Hardy “that suggests the cubs were less, or not, conditioned to human food and presence than first reported.”Thomas said the decision about the cubs was made last month by the provincial Wildlife Veterinarian and provincial wildlife biologists who determined the cubs were in good health and should be cared for by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre until 2016 at which time they will be released as yearlings.”The release site will be determined at a later date, but will be as remote as possible, in good bear habitat and away from human settlement to further reduce the risk of human contact,” said Thomas in an email.The centre will perform behavioural assessments and continue to monitor the bears closely, as is done for all cubs entering the program.Residents are reminded that the best way to avoid habituated bears or orphaned cubs is to reduce human-wildlife interaction by securing food attractants, such as garbage, birdseed, compost, pet food and fruit.

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