Rehabilitating grizzly bears in North America

In 1991, Canada’s Prairie population of Grizzly bears was declared extinct and their future in British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut is in the balance. Human activities have also resulted in the geographic or genetic isolation of several grizzly bear populations — including eight that have been identified in southern British Columbia.

IFAW and The Northern Lights Wildlife Society, in collaboration with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, are working to give orphaned grizzly bears a second chance.

On July 12, 2008, the first two orphaned grizzly bears in this pilot project, Suzy and Johnny, were released back to the wild. This was the first officially sanctioned grizzly bear release in Canadian history. Both bears were fitted with special satellite collars that allowed researchers to follow them throughout the summer. Since then, two additional Grizzlies grizzly bears were rescued, rehabilitated and released in the summer of 2009  followed by four in June 2011  bringing the total to eight bears.

The satellite collars have helped us validate our approach to rehabilitation. The released bears have posed no risk to humans and appear to behave just like other bears in the wild.