Grizzly Release

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Grizzly Release

Image Credits, All photos by John Marriott

On May 30th, 5 young grizzly bears started their long journey home. After been given a chance to mature at NLWS for 6 month each bear was placed into individual transport boxes to travel from Smithers to Bella Coola. After a night of rest the last leg of the journey is completed via helicopter to a remote habitat chosen to ensure best possible survival chances for the young bears.

There is so much hope and promise with this work, but it also comes with significant challenges. During the final stage of the release, there were complications during the helicopter transportation, and one of the bears did not survive the journey.

The provincial veterinarian who was on-site is conducting a necropsy. It will take some time to get the complete analysis of this tragic event.

One of the goals of our research is to examine every step of the rewilding process. From their intake by the Conservation Officer Service, through their care at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter, to their final release in partnership with the provincial government and all of the professionals that put so much care into giving these cubs a second chance at life in the wild. Through all of this, we are learning and building best practices. Ensuring we determine the best care and welfare for the bears, while giving them every chance for success and survival in the wild.

The other 4 bears have, to everyone’s joy, settled well into their new home. All bears are wearing radio transmitters and are monitored closely. They chose to use their new landscape in the exact way that would be expected from a “wild” grizzly and in doing so, are demonstrating their instinctive ability to adapt.

At NLWS we know that this is innovative research being done nowhere else in the world. We understand that we have a lot to learn, however the loss of Muwin was a hard blow. Arthur, Raven, Isa & Cedar are showing us that the work must continue and the best way to honor Muwin is to ensure that we can with our partners create a comprehensive guideline for others to embrace the rewilding of grizzly cubs in other parts of Canada and the world.

We are deeply grateful to the continuous commitment of the BC Conservation Officers, Ministry of Natural Resources, Grizzly Bear Foundation, Wildlife Veterinarians, Researchers, and the people of BC and beyond that support this project.


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