In the spring of 2007 the BC Government (as the first government in the world) signed an agreement with the Northern Lights Wildlife Society and IFAW, to consider orphaned grizzly bear cubs for a pilot rehabilitation program. Though grizzly cubs had been raised and released in BC before (2 female cubs by Hillspring Wildlife Rehab Centre in Dawson Creek in 1999, 4 cubs by Hillspring Wildlife Rehab Centre in Dawson Creek in 2006 and 1 cub by Helen Jameson near Nelson in 2006) official acceptance of this practice was lacking, as no post release monitoring was done to prove that cubs survived and integrated into the wild population. NLWS with the support from IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) has been in negotiation with the BC Government for some time and is looking forward to facilitate this pilot project.
Aim of the project:
To provide orphaned cubs with a safe and species oriented environment to grow up, until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.
To monitor cubs after the release to answer questions in regards to their surrvival rate, possible human/bear conflict situations and their ability to fit into the wild population.
To gather valuble information about grizzly behavior, nutricional needs, medical treatment and facility requirements.
The results of the project are to be used as a future foundation to create sustainable rehabilitation standarts for grizzly cubs.
History of NLWS Involvement in Grizzly Rehab Attempts
December 2005/January 2006
NLWS was approached by Parks Canada to rehabilitate two orphaned grizzly cubs from Alberta. Despite the willingness of NLWS to accept the cubs immediately the project got buried in red tape over the Christmas holidays. In January The BC government declined involvement in the project, as Alberta was unwilling to facilitate release areas for the cubs upon release time. NLWS agrees with the BC Government that it is not feasible to release bears from other provinces in BC. It is the current policies that all bears are released in their original home rage. This means that a Vancouver bear would not be released in the North of BC. The reasons for such policies are to not disturb the natural balance of the local population and also to prevent possible genetic mix-ups. The two cubs have been placed at the Calgary Zoo.
Offers to rehabilitate grizzly cubs "ignored"
Two seven month old grizzly cubs that lost their mother to a random illegal shooting, will spend the rest of their lives at display at Grouse Mountain Refuge in Vancouver instead of being rehabilitated and released back into their home range. Both NLWS and Hillspring Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre offered to take the cubs for rehabilitation, but their offers where declined by the Ministry, even tough Hillspring has rehabbed two grizzly cubs in 2000 with the governments approval. Instead the cubs became a profit making subject at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver.