Three rescued grizzly bear cubs were recently welcomed to the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) shelter in Smithers, BC, Canada. The bears’ mother was shot when she charged a conservation officer checking bear traps in the area, which is 430 miles (700km) northwest of Vancouver. As part of a cooperative pilot project between the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the B.C. Ministry of Environment, and the NLWS, the bear cubs will undergo months of rehabilitation before they are fit to be released back into the wild. They will join two other cubs that were rescued earlier in the month.
In any other case, the bear cubs might have been killed, but the NLWS shelter has rehabilitated four grizzly bears since 2008.
As Dr. Ian Robinson, the IFAW Emergency Relief Director says, "We have an opportunity here to give these bears a second chance at life. Rehabilitation is a sustainable and humane alternative to killing orphan bears and is also an opportunity for us to learn more about the species and their ability to thrive in the wild after human care."
The bears will be fitted with non-invasive satellite collars upon their release, so that their movements can be tracked. Habitat loss is a big threat to grizzlies, so geospatial data is key to understanding their plight.
The IFAW runs bear rehabilitation projects in Russia and Asia as well: since they’ve begun, approximately 150 bears have been released back into the wild.
Photo credit: IFAW