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Open Letter to Honourable Jason Nixon

  1. May 20, 2020

Honourable Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

RE: Open Letter: Rehabilitated grizzly cubs can boost Alberta grizzly bear recovery

We, the 73 (104) signatories of this letter, are deeply concerned about the three orphaned grizzly cubs in the Calgary Zoo, as well as Alberta’s grizzly bear population.

We would like to thank Alberta Fish and Wildlife for rescuing the three cubs and for the care that the Calgary Zoo has provided them.

Our group respectfully requests that Alberta Fish and Wildlife consider rehabilitating and releasing these cubs into the Alberta wilderness to boost the province’s grizzly bear population rather than condemning these bears to long-term captive care.

Many Albertans fully support this approach, given that grizzly bears are a threatened species in Alberta and rehabilitation and release into the wild is the most humane solution. Science shows that wild animals suffer immeasurably in captivity. The Calgary Zoo was one of the first zoos to treat polar bears with Prozac to mitigate the psychological trauma of captivity and the development of disorders.

The age and health of these three cubs make them ideal candidates for the only grizzly cub rehabilitation program in North America, namely the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, B.C. Since its inception in 2007, this shelter has raised and released twenty-five grizzly cubs without serious incident.

Once successfully reared and capable of surviving in the wild on their own, the cubs would be released back into an appropriate area with as little human development as possible.

Our group believes that rehabilitating these three orphaned cubs is a critical first step to revamping Alberta’s commitment to grizzly bear conservation and recovery. Since 2013, when the last recovery plan expired, Alberta has been without a recovery plan to guide these efforts. It is time to revisit the 2016 draft plan and update it with the best-available science to improve habitat security and reduce human-caused mortality. This recent incident is a stark reminder of how quickly and tragically healthy grizzlies can disappear from the landscape.

While some grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 American states have increased dramatically, Alberta’s population has seen no significant increase since the species was designated as threatened in 2010.

As part of the grizzly bear recovery plan update, we urge the Alberta government to consider licensing one or more of the Alberta bear rehabilitation facilities for grizzly bear rehabilitation.

Thank you for putting the welfare of the cubs and Alberta’s grizzly bear population first. We look forward to a timely response to our requests.


Undersigned – 104 Multiple signatories and growing

Signatories May 2020/ June 2020

  1. Amarin Dawn, Experience Journeys, AB
  2. Anouk Kendall, President Decentralised Energy,AB
  3. Dr. Anthony P. Clevenger, WTI-Montana State
  4. Barbara Bertch, former Canadian National Park, AB
  5. Ben Gadd, BASc. Rockies Naturalist/Writer, AB
  6. Carol and Peter Tracey, Wildlife Conservationists, AB
  7. Christyann Olson, Exec Director Alberta Wilderness Association, AB
  8.  Dr. Corinne Chapman, DVM, AB
  9. Dave Klepacki, PhD Essential Earth MentoringAB
  10. Dr. David Swann, former Leader of the Alberta Green Party, AB
  11. Don Mickle, Former Canadian National Park Warden, AB
  12. Francis First Charger, Ninnaisipistoo-Owl Chief, AB
  13. Dr. Geoff Holroyd, Retired Researcher Environment Canada, AB
  14. Dr. Ian Urquhart, Prof Emeritus, U of A, AB
  15. Jill Seaton, Naturalist, AB
  16. Jim Murphy, former Canadian National Park Warden, AB
  17. Jim Pissot, former Director of Defenders of Wildlife, AB
  18. Joe Urie, Member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, Jasper Tour Co., AB
  19. John E. Marriott, Co-Founder, Exposed Wildlife Conservancy/ILCP, AB
  20. Karin Nelson, Wildlife Rehabilitation Advocate, AB
  21. Kevin Van Tighem, Biologist/Author, AB
  22. Leeanne Willoughby, Wildlife Conservationist, AB
  23. Dr. Leroy LIttlebear, UofLeth, Nitsitapi Scholar, Blood Tribe of Alberta
  24.  Lisa Dahlseide, Conservation Biologist, AB
  25. Mary-Ann Holm, Concerned Albertans for Animal Welfare& Public Safety, AB,
  26. Maureen Enns, Artist/Author, AB
  27. Dr. Paul Paquet, Intl Carnivore Authority, Adjunct Prof U of C, AB
  28. Peter Duck, President Bow Valley Naturalists, AB
  29. Reg Bunyan, former Canadian National Park Warden, AB
  30. Reno Sommerhalder, Grizzly Specialist, AB
  31. Rick Kunelius, former Banff Canadian National Park Warden, AB
  32. Silvia Soto, Wildlife Advocate, AB
  33. Stephen Legault, Writer/Conservationist, AB
  34. Sid Marty, Author, AB
  35. Trevor Miller, Animal Alliance of Canada, AB
  36. Tove Reece, Voices for Animals Society, AB
  37. Dr. Peter Neuhaus, Adjunct Prof, U of C, Dept of Biological Sciences, AB
  38. Amber Peters, Biologist in Training, B.C.
  39. Anne Sherrod, Valhalla Wilderness Society ,BC
  40. Barbara Murray, Bears Matter Consulting, BC
  41. Dr. Bryce Casavant, Former BC Conserv Officer, BC
  42. Charlotte Dawe, Wilderness Committee, BC
  43. Christine Miller, North Shore Black Bear Society, BC
  44. Ellie Lamb, Grizzly Bear Guide-Artist, BC
  45. Eric and Trish Boyum, Ocean Adventures Charter Ltd., BC
  46. Evelyn Kirkaldy, Wildlife Technician, BC
  47. Gary and Ronda Murdock, Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours, BC
  48. Dr. Gosia Bryja, Environmental Scientist, BC
  49. Ian McAllister, Exec Director Pacific Wild, Filmmaker, Photographer, Author, BC
  50.  Jefferson Bray, Great Bear Chalet, BC
  51. Jim Lawrence, Friends of the Lardeau River, BC
  52. Kelly Carson, DeerSafe, BC
  53. Kirsten Rose, Wolf Matters, BC
  54. Maggie Paquet, Biologist, BC
  55. Margaret McCullough, Surfrider Foundation, BC
  56. Ron Jakimchuk, Founder RD Jakimchuk Wildlife Heritage, BC
  57. Sadie Parr, Wolf Awareness Inc. BC
  58. Sylvia Dolson, Get Bear Smart, BC
  59. Tommy Knowles, Exec Dir, Wildlife Defence League, BC
  60. Tony and Michelle Joyce, Conservationists/Wildlife Photographers, BC
  61. Val Murray, Justice for BC Grizzlies, BC
  62. Wayne P. McCrory, RBio.Bear Biologist, McCrory Wildlife Services Ltd., BC
  63. Wendy Chambers, Wildlife Conservationist, BC
  64. Dr. Barrie Gilbert, Retired Wildlife Professor/Author, ON
  65. Dr. Gay Bradshaw, Kerulos Centre of Non-Violence, OR
  66. Jeff Gailus, Conservationist/Author, MT
  67. Joe Duff, Wild Aid Canada Society, AB
  68. Dr. John Beecham, International Bear Rehabilitation Specialist, ID
  69.  Jordon Reichert, Animal Alliance of Canada, BC
  70.  Judy Malone, Tourists Against Trophy Hunting, ON
  71.  Julie Woodyer, Zoocheck Canada
  72. Lesley Fox, The Furbearers Canada
  73. Dr. Sian Waters, IUNC Dept of Anthro, Durham Univ, UK.
  74. Caroline Dahlen, DVM, AB
  75. Bill Marshall, former Chief Park Ranger, Kananaskis Country, AB
  76. Dr. Stephen Herrero, Prof Emeritus, Environmental Science, U of C, AB
  77. Baden Cross, Applied Conservation GIS, BC
  78. Mike & Ella McIntosh, Bear With Us Centre for Bears, ON
  79. Camille Labchuk, Exec Director Animal Justice Canada
  80. Dr. Lance Craighead, Craighead Institute, Montana, USA
  81. Dr. Judith Samson-French, DVM, AB
  82. Wendy Anderson, Animal Advocate, AB
  83. Chris Morgan, MS, Conservationist, Filmmaker, Podcaster, WA
  84. Monica Magnetti, Marketing and Communications, Luna Coaching, BC
  85. Dr. Stephen Stringham, Dir of Bear Comm & Coexistence, AK
  86. Colleen Gara, Conservationist, Photographer, AB
  87. Rebeka Breder, Animal Law Lawyer, BC
  88. Lydia Koot, Chair Black Bear Committee, Hope, BC
  89. Paul Nicklen, Co-founder SeaLegacy, Photographer, Filmmaker, Marine Biologist, BC
  90. Cristina Mittermeier, Co-founder SeaLegacy, Photographer, Biologist, Author, BC
  91. Peter Dettling, Wildlife Photographer & Author AB
  92. Brian Keating, biologist, broadcaster, co- producer of  AB
  93. Peter J. Poole, Leaseholder, The Juniper Hotel, Banff, AB
  94. Lesley Sampson, Founding Exec Dir. Coyote Watch Canada, ON
  95. Jo Ellen Cushing, Wildlife Rehabilitator, International School for Earth Studies, QB
  96. Dr. Benjamin Kilham, Bear Rehabilitator, Author, Kilham Bear Center, New Hampshire, USA
  97. Robert Hughes, Author, Wildlife Advocate, AB
  98. Cyndi Smith, retired Canadian National Park Biologist and Park Warden, AB
  99. Dr. David Mattson, Retired Wildlife Research Biologist, MT
  100. Louisa Willcox, Bear Advocate, Co-Founder Grizzly Times, MT
  101. Alex Mowat, Bear-viewing, AB
  102. Melodey Wood, Bear Advocate, Waterton, AB
  103. Dr. Jonaki Bhattacharyya, Dept of Applied Conservation Science, UVictoria, BC
  104. Helen Davis, Artemis Wildlife Consultants, BC

Articles after press release

Scientists call on Alberta government to lift ban on rehabilitating orphaned grizzly bear cubs

“These three cubs are not being saved by being in a zoo. This is not a happy ending for wild animals. This is condemning these bears to a life in captivity where they do not belong.”

1 thought on “Open Letter to Honourable Jason Nixon”

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