The Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter is releasing a record number of bears back to the wild this spring.
This month, the team is on the road releasing 76 bears where they came from, including five grizzlies.
NLWS manager Angelika Langen said that number is double last year’s total.
She suspects it is from a combination of things including the fact that the public was still home last year so more people saw bears and reported them.
There was also a heat wave and more wildfires last summer that affected wildlife and Langen added the shelter has been working better with conservation officers and have more trained volunteers across the province to catch the animals.
The shelter now needs to raise more than $30,000 to help with the spring release of last year’s bear cubs and to buy milk for this year’s cubs coming in.
“The rising gas costs have thrown us under the water,” explained Langen. “We didn’t factor that in when we made plans last year. The grizzly bears all need to be flown out and the cost of helicopters have gone up tremendously, and so have the regular gas costs. We are hoping people will back us up and meet those costs.”
An annual fundraiser, dubbed the M&M event has so far brought in around $18,000.
“I’m starting to bite my nails, we just flew out our first grizzly bears and we got a $9,000 bill, a lot more than we had thought.”
She added they always bring the bears back to where they came from to keep the population numbers in various areas the same and they don’t want to mix up genetics or mess with nature.
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