The Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter features structures and natural features that allow bears to prepare for their release into the wild. (Thom Barker photo)

The Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter features structures and natural features that allow bears to prepare for their release into the wild. (Thom Barker photo)

VIDEO: B.C. wildlife shelter releases 34 bears into the wild

Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter near Smithers took in 32 black bear orphans last year

Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter has begun its annual release of bears into the wild.

Last year, the shelter, located just east of Smithers on the Telkwa High Road, took in 32 black bear orphans and two grizzlies. The first three were released between Kitwanga and Houston last weekend.

Five more will be going out this weekend in the Fort St. John area and for the rest of the month, the Northern Lights team will be on the road.

“We’ll go down towards Williams Lake and [release] bears there, then we have bears in the Prince George region, we have bears up in Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake, over to Jade City as well and then we need to go down to the Rosslyn and Castlegar area and then over to Cranbrook, so we’re all over B.C. in the next three weeks,” said Angelica Langen, Northern Lights co-founder with husband Peter Langen.

WATCH: Video of 29 black bear orphans eating breakfast at Northern Lights Animal Shelter

The two grizzlies will be released in Bella Coola.

Angelica said 2018 was a fairly typical year.

“It’s becoming standard, between 30 and 40 bears every year, the most we had was almost 50 and we can take over 60, we have room,” she said.

She explained the June release is based primarily on the natural cycle of cub weaning.

“They always get released at about a year-and-a-half,” she said. “That’s when the mother kicks them off because she’s going to get bred again by a male and the male would be a danger to the cubs.

“This is the normal time when they’re genetically primed to be on their own. They’re teenagers now, so they can’t wait to move out from home.

“The other reason we try to do it at this time of year is because the adults are busy with each other; they’re less likely to hunt the young ones down so (the cubs) have four or five weeks to kind of get their bearing and get the hell out of the area if there’s a big boar around.”

READ MORE: Seven bears removed from Smithers trails

Finally, she said, the abundance of food at this time of year helps.

“There’s lots of food and bears do share, so if there’s lots of food around, again, there’s less chance of predation.

“All around, it’s the best time for them to go out, the berries are coming now and there’s lots of greens, so they have a good chance of getting themselves settled and not lose a whole lot of weight.”

Shelter workers also try to avoid putting the cubs into a tough situation.

“Obviously when we drive in somewhere we don’t know what’s living there, but we look for signs of bear activity and we try to pick areas where we don’t see many signs, but [where there is] good food and water.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t sometimes trouble. Angelica said there have been cases when it looks like they’ve found a safe drop-off spot and the next thing that happens is a big male will show up.

READ MORE: Saving a bear at Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter

“There’s nothing you can do about that,” she said. “All the areas are occupied and it’s normal for the young ones that they have to move.”

June is also the busy time of year for rescues. So far in 2019, the shelter has taken in 10 black bear cubs and one deer fawn and Angelica is anticipating many more.

The main cause is traffic, she said.

“The primary reason why we get bears is highway or train collisions, I would say that’s about 75 per cent of the cubs we get come from those reasons.”

The second most common cause is nuisance bears being shot.

“When people leave their attractants out, and they don’t clean up their garbage and don’t like when the bear comes around and has an easy meal, then, if the calls keep coming in, the conservation officers, by law, have no other choice than taking out those bears and that then creates more orphans,” she explained.

Consequently, now is also the most expensive time of year for Northern Lights and the push is on to bring in the donations.

“We’re totally funded by the public and by donations so we rely on getting these donations and that dictates how many bears we can take in,” Angelica said. “If we don’t get the support, we have to reduce the numbers, because we have to look after them until next year, so I need to know that we can feed them and look after them.

“It’s always this time of year, fundraising for the kilometres that we have to cover and then also for all these little guys that are coming in now, the milk is very expensive, like a bag of bear milk is about $145 and we’ll go through a bag in a week-and-a-half.”

There is also the expense of maintenance on the pens and structures.

“When you have a 150-pound bear in there and you have 30 of them, they do a lot of damage,” she said.



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Recently rescued black bear orphans adjust to their new, temporary home at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter near Smithers. (Thom Barker photo)

Recently rescued black bear orphans adjust to their new, temporary home at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter near Smithers. (Thom Barker photo)

Just Posted

Discovery House executive director Jerome Abraham in front of the third building, Parkers Place, for the addiction recovery program. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Discovery House opens Parkers Place in Penticton to provide transitionary care

The addiction recovery program is now able to provide support for as long as necessary

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen offices in Penticton. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen showcases local government

The RDOS has put together a video as part of Local Government Awareness Week

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Duckie Lucky Preschool is one of the few child care locations available in Keremeos. (Brennan Phillips – Keremeos Review)
Report: Keremeos to need 40 child care over the next decade

The RDOS has completed their study on child care needs in the region

The future of the Okanagan Lake watershed land use will be subject of a new study supported by a $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation. (Contributed)
Grant to help develop Okanagan Lake protection strategy

Study receives $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Most Read