The journey began on Friday July 11th when the bears were sedated by MOE veterinarian Dr. Helen Schwantje and assisted by Peter Langen (Northern Lights Wildlife Society) and IFAW veterinarian Dr. Anand Ramanathan and bear biologist Dr. John Beecham. The sedation was observed by BC Environment Minister Barry Penner and regional manager Mike Bell. On Friday evening the bears were transported to Prince George.
On the morning of Saturday July 12th the NLWS/IFAW team met with locale conservation officers before driving approx. 2.5 hours to the release location. Once on site the trap that was carrying Suzy and Johnny was carefully positioned. The enclosure door was slowly opened and we all watched excitedly from the safety of our vehicles, and ? nothing. After about two minutes of waiting Suzy stepped onto the ground quickly followed by Johnny. The bears took a couple of steps towards the parked vehicles but quickly changed their minds abruptly turning around and heading down the trail about 40 feet where they stopped and ate.
After about five minutes Suzy made her way down the slope towards the forest and the river. Without hesitation Suzy walked into the forest whereas Johnny frequently stopped to eat. As the rain started to come down, and with the bears in the forest and out of sight, we decided it was time to go. As we were about to leave, one of the conservation officers called out that Suzy was walking up the far end of the trail towards us. As soon as Suzy heard us and realized that she was heading towards people she immediately turned around and ran away. The last we saw of her she was running away from us and into the forest.
The two researchers, Achim and Ruth, will be tracking the bear?s movements over the next few months. Anand Ramanathan and John Beecham remained in the field with the team on Sunday and tracked Suzy for most of the day, although they lost sight of Johnny. The team will received GSP locations of the bears later this week and will continue monitoring.