UPDATE: Bella Coola B.C. grizzly bear tracking collars retrieved

Tony Hamilton from the BC Ministries of Environment holds the retrieved tracking collars. Photo: Northern Lights Wildlife CenterLori, Dean, Drew and Jason, the four grizzly bear cubs that were successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wilds of Bella Coola, B.C. area last July have dropped their tracking collars and the collars have been retrieved.

On Monday, August 27th Northern Lights Wildlife Society and the B.C. Ministries of Environment and Forest staff successfully made their way via helicopter to the collar sites and retrieved the remaining 3 collars.

Drew’s collar had fallen off previously in September and had been retrieved. Before setting out the team plotted the last received GPS coordinates against a map. When nearing each site, they switched to the VHF tracking to hone in on the VHF signal the collars were transmitting.  

We were especially thrilled with the den that Lori found for herself. We had stopped receiving data from Lori’s GPS collar in the fall and figured she had “denned deep”, blocking the signal to the satellite.

Then in late spring we received a mortality signal but that was not the case at all. To hibernate in the wild this past winter, Lori had found herself some prime real estate, taking over an abandoned den.  

Even though the den was located next to a glacier it was nice and deep and on a hillside full of food. So she went to bed nice and fat and when she woke up she slipped her collar, having lost the weight over the winter.

Lori was a real character while in rehab and demanded to be first in the water pond, chasing the boys out so she had it all to herself. When fresh straw was delivered, it was never arranged the way SHE liked it and would drag it all out of her cubby and replace it to suit herself, grumbling all the while.

Now the collars will be sent to the manufacturer who will offload the data stored in the collars. This rich data will provide us with more valuable information but we are encouraged by Lori’s choice of den in that she appears to be doing the right things and is capable of making these types of wild bear decisions.

The pilot project is a cooperative effort between IFAW, Northern Lights Wildlife Society, the British Columbia Ministries of Environment and Forest, Lands and National Resource Operations. The pilot will study whether releasing orphaned grizzlies is viable.

--GA

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