Petitions fly over Clover

Clover the kermode bear continues to create controversy as more petitions over his captivity lead to more awareness and more discord.

On Thursday, Sherry Lidstone launched her online petition to save Clover, which has stirred up controversy since being placed at the B.C. Wildlife Park less than a month ago.

But this petition has a twist. Rather than insist the bear be released, Lidstone says Clover's life would be saved by keeping him at the park.

As of press time, 51 people signed on to support Lidstone's statement: "Keep Clover the Spirit Bear at Kamloops Wildlife Park (BCWP): Save Clover's life . . . setting him free will only endanger his life."

Attempts to reach Lidstone were not successful, but she appears convinced that captivity is the spirit bear's only chance of survival.

"If Clover is set free he will not make it on his own," wrote Lidstone.

So far, she's received support from residents as far away as The Pas, Man.

"Clover is a very special bear," said petition signer Catherine McLellan of Kamloops.

"In the best circumstances I would prefer him to be still in the wild without ever having contact with humans. Unfortunately, this is not the case and he has been given not a second chance, but a third chance at survival. At the wildlife park, he will become a great ambassador for not only his species but all of the wild animals in B.C. Respect wildlife, leave them alone. Don't release Clover. Keep him alive. Let him share his spirit."

Clover was brought to the park by Angelika Langen, who operates the Northern Lights wildlife shelter in Terrace.

Langen did not return calls for comment. But it's now widely known that when an attempt to reintroduce Clover to the wild failed, shelter staff sought an alternative to putting it down.

Euthanization is standard practice when a bear can't be set free, and that would've been Clover's fate had it not been for the colour of his fur, stated Langen on the Northern Lights website.

It seems everyone agrees that Clover is special, but debate over what to do with him rages.

And so far, the drive to keep the bear captive hasn't gained the same international momentum as the campaign to free him.

Last week, a South African wildlife trust backed Clover's release. A week ago, Kamloops environmentalist Ruth Madsen launched a petition aimed at B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake to return the bear to the wild. At press time, it had reached 424 signatures from as far away as New Hampshire.

Lake said the decision over Clover's fate ultimately belongs to Steve Thomson, B.C.'s minister of forests, lands and natural resources.

Three days ago, an online petition aimed at Thomson was launched by a Vancouver organization called Lifeforce Foundation. It received 430 signatures from all over the world.

"The Kamloops zoo manager said that this is like 'winning a lottery,' " states the non-profit ecology organization. "Sounds as if money is the real reason why the bear is being imprisoned. . . . Monies are better spent on true conservation programs that include preserving natural ecosystems."

Lifeforce stated it's awaiting word after reaching out to the province to work together on a study on possibilities for Clover's release.

Thomson was not immediately available for comment.

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