Two orphaned grizzly cubs rescued late last fall have been released back into the wild.
After spending the winter at Smithers’ Northern Lights Wildlife shelter in a pen with three other grizzly cubs from other parts of the province, and gaining a couple of hundred pounds, the two healthy cubs were loaded into traps at the shelter and transported west of Terrace June 17.
Conservation officers Ryan Gordon, Sgt. Tracy Walbauer and Provincial Wildlife Vet Helen Schwantje from Victoria along with Northern Lights staff prepared the cubs for their release far from people.
The cubs were drugged, blood and hair samples were collected and a health assessment was completed.
Both bears were fitted with radio collars, to track their movements for up to two years.
The bears were flown by Silver King helicopters to a remote wilderness location southwest of Terrace, where they were released.
Last November, conservation officers were called out to a dead grizzly sow near Kitimat and successfully trapped her two cubs, a male and female, who were last year’s cubs.
There was no indication that they had been eating garbage so they met the criteria to go to Northern Lights where staff fed and cared for them while keeping them wild.
At that time, it wasn’t clear how the grizzly sow had died as an initial field post-mortem didn’t determine anything definite.
It was thought she might have been hit by traffic as Alcan changed shifts but there were no signs of impact or broken bones on the sow.
No bullets or bullet entry wounds were found either so it was thought she might have died of natural causes.