Orphaned Grizzly Bears Rescued in Canada

Oct 29, 2010, 10:00 ET from International Fund for Animal Welfare

YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, three rescued grizzly bears arrived at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) shelter in Smithers, British Columbia. The bear cubs will undergo several months of rehabilitation before they are fit for release back to the wild. The effort is part of a unique cooperative pilot project between the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the B.C. Ministry of Environment and NLWS.

The bears' mother was shot as she charged a conservation officer checking bear traps in the area. The three rescued cubs join two grizzlies rescued earlier this month. All five bears were found near Bella Coola, B.C. some 430 miles (700km) northwest of Vancouver.

"We have an opportunity here to give these bears a second chance at life," said Dr. Ian Robinson, IFAW Emergency Relief Director. "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."

Since 2008, four grizzly bears have been rehabilitated and released back to the wild. The grizzlies are fitted with satellite collars that provide valuable geospatial data after release.

"Grizzly bears face increased threats ranging from habitat loss to conflict with humans," said NLWS Director Angelika Langen. "We are thrilled to be able to rescue these five little bears and look forward to caring for them day and night until they are ready to go back to the wild."

IFAW runs similar bear rehabilitation projects with brown bears in Russia and Asiatic black bears in India. Together, the projects have released approximately 150 rehabilitated bears back to the wild.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. www.ifaw.org

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare