Little Makoon (Cree for little bear), a five-week-old bear cub who weighs 5lbs 4oz, plays with a ball at the Dubois home in St. Malo.
ST. MALO, Man. - Conservation officials have seized a black bear cub rescued and taken home last month by a man in southern Manitoba.
Makoon, who has become a bit of a celebrity in southern Manitoba, is now biding his time at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg while government officials try to find him a new home in Ontario.
"I feel like crying," Rene Dubois said Tuesday afternoon, after a conservation officer and a biologist came to his house in St. Malo and loaded the cub up in a cage.
The 63-year-old said he was told he can't visit the bear at the zoo but was given a phone number to call so he could check on his condition
Dubois said it was a heart-wrenching good-bye that he wasn't prepared for, but he's glad the cub is going to a place where he'll be well taken care of.
"At least he'll have a chance,"
Mike McIntosh, the operator of Bear With Us, said the Manitoba government's thinking is "illogical."
"There's the misconception that once a bear is cared for by people, it'll become conditioned or habituated and no longer releaseable. And that's not true."
He said there's still time to rehabilitate the bear, if a decision is made quickly. The bear, roughly eight weeks old, hasn't yet been affected by human contact, said McIntosh, but by mid-May, he's going to be more aware of his environment.
"That's when the cubs become much more alert and mobile and they fear everything that's not their mother."
McIntosh has rehabilitated more than 300 black bears and released them into the wild in Ontario. About 10 years ago, he helped two cubs from Manitoba and was allowed to send them back.
"At that time, the regulations (in Manitoba) weren't quite as detailed."
He said he has already received permission from the Ontario government to bring Makoon to his sanctuary, on the condition he be sent back to Manitoba when he's old enough to make it on his own.
"It pulls at your heartstrings. You want to help, and it's people's nature to do that. But sometimes it doesn't help, especially when the placement for these animals is very few and far between.
"So sometimes, unfortunately, we have to let nature take its course."