Worries raised over whether bear cub will be able to survive when released back into woods
Published Monday, April 16, 2012 5:33PM CST
Some people are raising concerns that an orphaned bear cub named Makoon may not have a good chance of survival when he's released back into the wild in June.
Rene Dubois found the orphaned bear cub in a ditch near St. Malo in March.
Dubois decided to help him, taking him to his home.
"I couldn't leave him there. The little cub was in distress so I picked him up and brought him here," said Dubois.
Later, the bear was turned over to Manitoba Conservation and then brought to a facility at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
Now, officials are saying Makoon will be released back into the wild in June, when he's about five months old.
Dubois said he's worried.
"Death sentence – that's what it is," said Dubois.
"If he doesn't starve to death, which is the most likely cause, he could be preyed on by wolves, coyotes, lynx," said Mike McIntosh from Bear With Us, a sanctuary and rescue centre for the animals in Ontario.
McIntosh said for a realistic chance of survival, Makoon shouldn't be released until he's a year-and-a-half old.
Manitoba Conservation concedes Makoon may not survive if he's released, but they believe he has a 50-50 chance.
"Which, actually, when you compare survival rates of cubs in the wild to their first year, it's actually as good, maybe even slightly better, than survival rates," said James Duncan from the wildlife branch of Manitoba Conservation.
Dubois, meanwhile, said he wants Makoon to be given more of a chance.
"If they would send it to Ontario, this guy he trains them to go back into the wild. He'll keep it for about 20 months, and then release it back into the wild," said Dubois.
There are, however, regulations in place and Ontario doesn't want a bear from another province released there, and Manitoba can't release a bear here that's been in another province for a span of time. An online petition has, however, been started, asking for Makoon to be rehabilitated until he's old enough to fend for himself.
At the time of his scheduled release into the wild in June, Makoon will be about as big as a medium-sized raccoon, said experts.
- with a report from CTV's Jon Hendricks