Grizzly Bear Outreach Program

On Friday May 23th the Public Library featured a new Grizzly Bear Outreach Program.

The Library was packed when the Smithers based Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) representatives introduced their Grizzly Bear Rehabilitation Project.

This is a pilot project that promises a significant solution to problems around orphaned grizzly bears. The NLWS and IFAW are working with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment to create standards and protocols for grizzly bear rehabilitation.

The IFAW and NLWS presentation is a part of the work that needs to be done in order to prove this outreach program to be feasible. Input from the residents plays an important role in the success of the rehabilitation project. The residents of Tumbler Ridge were chosen for their familiarity with the grizzly bear incident last summer and the natural closeness to the habitat of Black and Grizzly Bear.

The other two communities were Dawson Creek and Prince George.

Last year Monkman Park Attendant Dan Cassan reported two grizzly bear cubs roaming in the area with no sign of their mother. After observation and much effort only one of the cubs was captured and brought to the NLWS Wildlife Shelter of Peter and Angelika Langen near Smithers. It was June 26th 2007 when the NLWS received this first orphaned grizzly bear. Underweight but healthy female cub was given the name Suzy. On November 11th 2007 the NLWS received the second grizzly bear, Johnny, who was entered into the program after his mother was killed on a highway near Prince George.

Both bears were placed in a specially designed enclosure with sufficient space to roam and explore their surroundings.

To offer interaction with other bears and limit the contact to human is the most important condition in the process of bear rehabilitation. Johnny and Suzy are now mature enough to live on their own. It is time to release them back to their natural environment. This critical step will show if orphaned grizzlies really can be rehabilitated. To make this pilot project a recognized way of grizzly bear rehabilitation these bears need to be observed after the release. Both bears will be returned to the geographical area close to where they were found but away from human activity. The abundant natural food and water resources in the beginning of summer define the release time and site. The McGregor area matches the criteria. The bears will be fitted with satellite collars to define their location every 90 minutes.The researchers can access the information and track the daily movement pattern of Suzy and Johnny three times a week until the collars drop off in September 2009.

Angelika Langen, Director of the NLWS, who takes care of the bears with her husband Peter, delivered an exciting informative and educational presentation. Her first hand experiences initiated an extended question period after the presentation.

The successful outcome illustrated the high priority accounted to the environmental protection that the Tumbler Ridge area offers.

International Fund for Animal Welfare Mission Statement

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) works to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting animals in distress. We seek to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well-being of both animals and people.

1 Nicholas Street Suite 612

Ottawa ON K1N 7B7

1-888-500-4329 www.ifaw.org

Northern Lights Wildlife Society Mission Statement

To assist and support wildlife by providing shelter and care for injured and/or orphaned wildlife, rehabilitating such wildlife, providing public education and collecting and publishing research data.

17366 Telkwa High Road

Smithers, BC V0J 2N7

(250) 847-5101

http://www.wildlifeshelter.com/