Calgary resident questions killing of mother bear leaving cubs behind

Mother bear

A mother bear in a suburb of Calgary was shot dead by wildlife officers leaving behind the cubs. Photo courtesy: Bragg Creek Wild.


A mother bear was shot and killed by Alberta wildlife officers last week leaving three cubs to survive without her and a community wondering what to do next.

Nicole Robertson lives in the Bragg Creek-Redwood Meadows area of Calgary where the bear came out looking for food.

She said the location has a lot of bushes and normally, an abundance of berries for wildlife.

But a drought changed that.

“When you are providing for your cubs in this instance, I can see how a mother bear would be looking for anything she possibly could to help feed her cubs,” said Robertson.

Mother bear
Local resident Nicole Robertson is concerned about the 3 remaining cubs, and their future. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN.

According to the province, Alberta wildlife officers were called to the location where the mother bear was spotted.

The three cubs climbed a tree and eventually came down and left after the shooting.

“I think about cubs, I think about what’s going to happen to them. What’s going to happen to children that are left?” asked Robertson. “Foraging through a forest where now they don’t have a role model to show them where to get certain things. How to get certain food.”

‘They don’t prefer McDonald’s hamburgers’  

In 2018, APTN News had the story of Maskwa, a bear cub found badly injured in the wild. It was brought to the Cochrane Ecological Institute where it recovered.

The institute has been helping orphaned bears since 1986.

But its licence to rehab bears was not renewed this year by the province.

The institute’s president, Clio Smeeton, said it was because workers took in two orphaned cubs outside the allowed months to do so.

Mother bear
Clio Smeeton says the institute is going to court to try and force the province to return its licence. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN.

Smeeton said she’s fighting to get the licence back.

Meanwhile, Smeeton said research in the United States showed that bears will stay in the woods and only leave when there is no food.

“The people of Bragg Creek know her. They know cubs, and she hasn’t done anything wrong,” Smeeton said. “And she’s come out of the bush because there is no food for her there. When there is drought, as there has been for two years here, bears will come in, but once the foliage in the bush recovers, they go back. They prefer to eat their own stuff.

“They don’t prefer to eat McDonalds’s hamburgers.”

Mother bear
A mother bear in a suburb of Calgary was shot dead by wildlife officers leaving behind the cubs. Photo courtesy: Bragg Creek Wild.

APTN News asked for an interview with the province to discuss the killing of the bear.

Alberta Environment and Parks would only provide an email statement that said in part, “This is an unfortunate situation caused by human actions leaving unsecured garbage, which became an attractant for bears actively foraging this time of year to accumulate fat stores for winter,” said the statement.

The statement also said the province will, “continue to monitor the status of the three cubs.  If the cubs are located, Fish and Wildlife will make a decision for both the benefit of the bears and public safety.”

Local residents are meeting to discuss ways to protect bears from harm.

Video Journalist / Edmonton

Chris Stewart has been in the media for 20 years. He has worked at CBC, Global and CTV as a news camera operator and editor. Chris joined APTN in 2012 in the Saskatoon Bureau and moved to APTN Edmonton bureau in 2015 as a Videojournalist.

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