Group wants spirit bear released

An animal rights group is calling for the release of a rare spirit bear, which is currently in a wildlife park in the province's Interior.

The 18-month-old kermode bear, which carries a rare genetic trait that turns its fur creamy white was recently relocated to the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops after conservation officers determined the animal wasn't a good candidate for relocation.

The kermode is the province's official animal.

The male cub, dubbed Clover, was captured, rehabilitated and released by a northern BC group, but was trapped again just months later when it continued to stay near humans.

The Vancouver-based animal rights group Lifeforce, a strong opponent of zoos that describes any animal captivity as "exploitation," has written an open letter asking the province to free the bear and describing the park as a "jail."

"Give this bear a chance! This Spirit Bear is still a good candidate for release. He will not die he will hibernate now," says the letter, addressed to Premier Christy Clark and Opposition Leader Adrian Dix of the NDP.

The group notes that earlier this week, the bear left the wildlife park, before it was tranquilized and recaptured. The group's letter says the incident is proof the bear wants to return to the wild.

But the manager of the B.C. Wildlife Park, Glenn Grant, said the kermode wouldn't survive if it was released into the wild.

"He doesn't show any fear towards humans," said Grant.

"He'll still find his way back to human activity no matter where you let him go."

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