11/02/2012 01:46 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Environment minister defends plan to keep rare kermode bear in captivity

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Environment Minister Terry Lake says a kermode bear cub with a rare genetic trait won't be sentenced to death by his ministry.

Lake is brushing off demands from the Vancouver-based animal rights group Lifeforce, to release the male cub from a wildlife sanctuary in Kamloops.

The 18-month old bruin dubbed Clover carries the unique genetic trait that turns its fur white.

It faces a life of captivity because it has become habituated to humans after being found orphaned in northwestern B.C.

Conservation officers ordered the bear be kept at the wildlife park when it continued to approach people after one attempt at rehabilitation, and Lake says he has contacted Lifeforce and tried to explain that the bear faces certain death if released.

Clover had to be tracked, tranquilized and returned to the wildlife park earlier this week after escaping from its enclosure just days after arriving at the facility. (CHNL)