The International Fund for Animal Welfare, the province, and the Northern Light Wildlife Society, are planning to formally return two rehabilitated grizzly bears to the wild in Canada for the first time.
This is a first of its kind pilot project. The bears, nicknamed Suzie and Johnny will be released in late June or early July. Both bears will be fitted with satellite collars to monitor their health and behavior. The collars are programmed to drop off in September 2009.
Suzy and Johnny were both rehabilitated at the Northern Light Wildlife Center in Smithers. Suzy was orphaned in June 2007 after her mother was killed by a poacher. She was found alone and underweight in Dawson Creek and has battled viruses and a severe dehydration that nearly killed her during rehabilitation. Johnny was rescued in Prince George in November 2007 after his mother was killed by a semi-truck. He was found wandering along the roadside rooting for food. The bears are part of a British Columbia government pilot project that the International Fund for Animal Welfare hopes will develop into standard protocols that steer all orphaned grizzly bears into rehabilitation programs.
In preparation for this historic release, a series of townhall meetings, to acclimate local communities with the program and offer opportunities to voice any concerns are being planned.
The Prince George townhall meeting will be held Saturday, May 24 at UNBC. A time has not yet been set.