Orphaned Grizzly Bears Released into the Wild

Monday, 14 July, 2008
British Columbia, Canada
A unique cooperative pilot project between IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), the B.C. Ministry of Environment and the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) returned two rehabilitated grizzly bears to the wild in northern British Columbia today.
"The long term goal of this pilot project is to help develop standards and protocols for grizzly bear rehabilitation that can be replicated in other provinces, territories and possibly states", said IFAW campaigner Kim Elmslie, "This project can revolutionize the way we rehabilitate and reintroduce grizzly bears into the wild."

The bear cubs, nicknamed Suzy and Johnny are both a year and a half old, and were rehabilitated at the NLWS center in Smithers, British Columbia. Suzy was orphaned in June 2007 after her mother was killed by a poacher. She was found alone and underweight just outside Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. Johnny was rescued in Prince George, British Columbia in November 2007 after his mother was killed by a semi-truck. He was found wandering along the roadside rooting for food.

"We will be monitoring the progress of Suzy and Johnny through satellite collars that will allow researchers to track their daily movements. Much of this data will be shared with the public through the IFAW website," said Angelika Langen, Director of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society.

"We have an opportunity to determine if grizzlies as a species can survive when they are released back into the wild," said Barry Penner, Minister of Environment. "These bears were orphaned by human activity and many people have wondered if humans in turn can help these cubs succeed as adults in their home range. This is also an opportunity to learn more about the species in the process."

Rehabilitating orphan bear cubs is being viewed by conservationists and wildlife officials as a more sustainable and humane alternative than killing the bears outright. Similar bear rehabilitation projects are being supported by IFAW in Russia and India.

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