Save the Grow-Op Bears!

CALGARY – Word a gang of black bears in B.C. found guarding an outdoor marijuana grow-op might be euthanized is too much to bear for some learning of their potential fate.

A group of up to 15 bears were found a few weeks ago near Christina Lake, hanging about near a patch of more than 1,000 pot plants and devoid of natural instincts to be fearful of humans.

Officials said the concern now is the bears are dependent on human handouts, like dog food allegedly doled out to keep them in the area, and they may be unable to fend for themselves.

Calgarian Doreen mcCrindle, however, said she plans to start a petition to try and save the bears from being killed.

She said her Facebook page, “Help save the BC black bears,” is attracting support for non-lethal options, like putting the bruins in a zoo or sanctuary.

“These bears don’t have a voice,” she said, adding the cause has attracted interest from around the world.

“Between the oilsands and the Stampede, I think Canada has an embarrassing record for being animal rights activists.”

Dave Webster, a conservation officer, said the bears are being given a chance and it’s too early to say how they will fare in relying on regular bear ways to survive.

Those who can’t “assimilate in a natural state,” finding food in the wilds, especially with winter on its way, will likely be put down, he said.

That is especially the case for those who end up posing a safety threat by resorting to getting food from humans, breaking down fences and feeding off dog food and fruit trees, for instance.

“At this point, we will leave it up to the bears and see if some can function in the wild,” Webster said Friday.

“The proof will be in the pudding.”

Webster said about 3,500 black bears are put down each year in B.C., many ruined by humans messing with their ability to be bears. The recent case a sad reminder bears often pay the ultimate price for people disrespecting wildlife.

“Feeding wildlife goes against what they need to survive,” he said, adding the option of placing the bears in captivity is unlikely.

“Generally, we don’t promote zoos. It’s my personal opinion, but I think a bear is far better off put down then to be put in (captivity) — it may make us feel better but it’s not the best option for the bear.

“We hope as many as possible survive. Either they will make it on their own or they wont.”

The group includes older bears and a sow with cubs who may have spent their entire lives relying on humans for food near the pot plants.

Webster said he has seen bears who once dined at municipal landfills adapt well when the sites closed while others “only know how to sit beside a garbage can.”

Criminal charges are pending against the people who occupied the land and they likely face charges under the Provincial Wildlife Act, which, on conviction, could see a fine of up to $100,000.

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