Letter: We helped a bear cub that conservation officers wouldn't

The Editor,

Re. "Bears are dying and provincial government must review BCCOS" (Opinion, The Tri-City News, Jan. 23), "Anmore couple rescues bear cub but faces BC Conservation investigation" and "Anmore couple that helped bear cub not in trouble" (tricitynews.com).

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On Jan. 9, our neighbour called us for help because she had a tiny, emaciated black bear cub asleep on her patio. After determining there was no mother bear around, my wife called Critter Care in Langley to see if it had room for a bear. Critter Care advised us to call the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS), inform them that we had spoken to Critter Care and confirmed there was room for the cub, and ask that a conservation officer come out and take the cub to Langley.

We called BCCOS as instructed but, surprisingly, the officer my wife spoke to "didn't want to get involved" and refused to come out and help the cub. My wife emphasized to the officer several times that we had already arranged for a space for the cub at Critter Care. After insisting that the CO help the cub, the CO's final response was, "That cub is not going to Critter Care. If the cub is still there in the morning, give us a call, and we might come out and take it across the street into the forest and let nature take it's course."

Realizing BCCOS had zero interest in helping this helpless cub was heartwrenching. The next morning, we arranged with the Fur-bearers Society, a professional animal welfare group that works closely with Critter Care, to get the cub and transport it to Critter Care before it died. Because I helped the Fur-Bearers staff member capture the cub (the creature was so weak, we literally rolled it into a box), and because I accompanied the cub to Critter Care, I was subsequently put under investigation by BCCOS for "interfering with wildlife" and was read my rights by the officer who came to my house.

When the cub arrived at Critter Care, it weighed just 20 lb. when it should have weighed 70 to 80 lb. — it was on death's door.

On Jan. 12, I received a call at home from a deputy chief with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy who apologized to my wife and informed me I would no longer be under investigation for interfering with wildlife. That was a big relief.

On Jan. 17, I received a call from the manager of BCCOS's Maple Ridge branch, where the officer who put me under investigation works. I was expecting that he might be calling to apologize too.

Instead of apologizing, the manager surprised me by saying that he was looking at a file that was opened in November 2019 "that we haven't acted on yet concerning a complaint I had made about someone illegally shooting wildlife." He explained that his office was "very busy back in November dealing with some issues with bears." He then asked me if I was involved in another file recently concerning a bear cub going to Critter Care. I confirmed that I was. I was then told that he would assign the November file to an officer and they would get in touch with me on Monday or Tuesday (Jan. 20 or 21). It is now January 22 and I still haven't heard a thing.

It doesn't seem to me that officers in the Maple Ridge branch care very much about bears, protecting wildlife or helping animals in distress. I have made two calls to the office in the last three months trying to help animals in distress and both calls were ignored.

It is time the whole BC Conservation Service and the BC Wildlife Act get a total revamp.

Michael Robson, Anmore

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