A sad ending for two grizzly bears
We work hard every day at The International Fund for Animal Welfare to ensure that animals in our care are given the best chance at the life they were meant to have.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don’t go as we’d like.
It’s with a very heavy heart that I tell you that Blair and Terry, two male grizzly bear cubs that were rescued as part of IFAW’s Grizzly Bear Rehabilitation Pilot Project, have been killed.
Blair and Terry were rescued from BC’s Kootenay region and taken into the Grizzly Bear Rehabilitation Pilot Project in October of 2012 after their mother and other sibling had been shot.
After spending seven months getting bigger and stronger under the careful care of our partner, the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, the brothers were released together in a remote area in June of this year.
Great care was taken to assess the release site and to ensure the area provided everything that the two bears would need for a fresh start in the wild – the top ones being availability of food sources, a place to den in winter and far away from human activity.
Like all the bears who are released as part of this pilot project, Blair and Terry were each fitted with satellite collars, and we watched their movements. At first they seemed to be doing well, moving away from human activity and finding food on their own.
One day, they moved into human territory and things went downhill from there.
Conservation Officers were called in after they raided a chicken coop that was located – unfortunately - directly beside a fish bearing creek.
A chicken coop beside a creek is most certainly an attractant to bears, and this first encounter that Blair and Terry had with humans reminds us that we all live together and must do our part to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
Sadly though, Blair and Terry’s encounters with humans didn’t end there.
For more than a week, the bears were monitored and aversion tactics were used to deter them when they got too close to the community. But despite the efforts of the Conservation Officers, the bears had imprinted on human food and continued to linger in populated areas, thus posing a threat to public safety.
We carefully considered all of the options for Blair and Terry, and every measure was taken to ensure that they were given the best possible chance at freedom in the wild.
Relocation was discussed, but our experts agreed that it was too late in the season for them to establish a new territory. And, because the bears were increasingly choosing to be in human settlements and putting human safety at risk, the difficult decision was made to shoot the bears.
This great tragedy has affected us all. But, we resolve to ensure that they did not die in vain.
Every detail of this case will be analyzed and reviewed by all of the partners from both a science and process perspective. We will use the findings to determine what can be learned from this situation, and how to apply what has been learned to the pilot project in the future.