Earth Issues

The curious case of Clover

 | December 8, 2012

The spirit bear, or Kermode bear, is a rare black bear that has white fur. Native to B.C., the spirit bear’s white fur is caused by a recessive gene, not through any relation to the polar bear nor albinism. It is estimated that less than 1,000 spirit bears live on B.C.’s Northern and Central Coasts.

One particular spirit bear may need special care. Debate currently rages over the freedom of Clover, a male cub, who was rescued by the Northern Lights Wildlife Centre as an orphan in 2011.

After caring for Clover during the winter, the centre made two unsuccessful attempts to reintroduce Clover to the wild. But, after the second unsuccessful attempt, they determined Clover had become used to being around humans. He was taken to the B.C. Wildlife Park, in Kamloops, and is now on display in his own enclosure.

Lifeforce, an ecology and animal rights non-profit group, is calling for other options for rehabilitation to be considered, while other animal rights groups are calling for Clover to be released. Petitions for Clover’s release and for keeping him in captivity have recently been set up online.

The case for release according to Lifeforce:

  • Clover hasn’t been given the right opportunity to be rehabilitated and released.
  • Clover shouldn’t be confined to captivity for life.
  • Clover isn’t a commodity and he shouldn’t be used for commercial benefit in a zoo.
  • Clover isn’t dangerous because he had no conflict with humans from July to October 2012 (during his release).

The case against release according to the B.C. Wildlife Park:

  • Clover has become used to humans and may be dangerous if released.
  • Clover isn’t accustomed to living in the wild and wouldn’t survive in the wild with other animals. In captivity he’ll live a long and healthy life.
  • The spirit bear is rare and this one could be used to educate the community about bear conservation. Other bears would have been shot.
  • Being in the park Clover is safe from poachers.

So, what do you think? Did we miss something? Make your comments heard by responding to SPIN’s online survey.