Rewilding offers a nonlethal solution for the welfare of orphaned grizzly cubs and could one day become an important conservation tool for threatened and recovering grizzly bear populations. 

In 2020 the Grizzly Bear Foundation began a multi-year research program to contribute a scientific understanding of orphaned grizzly cub captive rearing and rewilding efforts. Led by Independent Research Scientist Dr. Lana Ciarniello, we are working in partnership with the BC Provincial Government and the Northern Lights Wildlife Society – the one and only wildlife shelter in North America that rescues, cares for, and releases orphaned grizzly bear cubs.

Our research objectives are: 

(1) To quantitatively examine the post-release survival and reproductive fitness of captive- reared grizzly bears over multiple years, preferably through to reproduction for female bears; and,   

(2) To identify the rearing methods that enhance survival probability post-release


Every bear counts. As one of the slowest reproducing land mammals, grizzly bears are among the most vulnerable - iconic - keystone species in North America. The loss of a grizzly bear mother and her cubs from the landscape is a significant impact to the population and the ecosystems they roam. But with your help, there’s hope.  ‍


In partnership with the BC provincial government and Northern Lights Wildlife Society–the only wildlife shelter in North America that rescues and cares for orphaned grizzly bear cubs, our team at the Grizzly Bear Foundation is taking action with Project Rewild.

Join us and support Project Rewild, a multi-year innovative and world-leading research program that supports and monitors the release of orphaned grizzly cubs back to the wild. Project Rewild will provide the science and best practices needed to enhance and expand rewilding efforts and policies for orphaned grizzly bear cubs, in British Columbia, Alberta, Montana and beyond. Your contribution goes directly towards:

Innovative research led by renowned IUCN grizzly bear biologist Dr. Lana Ciarniello

Field work for staff, scientists, and veterinarians on the ground to ensure the young bears are safe on their journey back to the wild

Helicopter time to reach remote, safe and productive habitats to give young bears the best chance of surviving life in the wild

State-of-the-art GPS/VHF collars fitted to each bear including redundant drop off systems to ensure their safety. The data gathered provides valuable information that will help future rewilding efforts

Advocacy for this innovative and world-leading work to encourage other provinces and states to support rewilding efforts and end the lethal removal of orphaned cubs

Raising awareness and inspiring action for conservation through storytelling. Sharing individual stories of how and why these cubs were orphaned, helps foster understanding and support for rewilding work and grizzly bear coexistence

100% of your donation will go towards our Project Rewild research and advocacy efforts to ensure orphaned grizzly bear cubs get a second chance at life in the wild.  


When a grizzly mother is tragically killed, their cubs are either lethally removed, sent to zoos, or abandoned with little chance of survival on their own. The loss of grizzlies is both a welfare issue and an ecological issue. Removing a grizzly bear mother and her cubs from the landscape is a significant loss to the population and the ecosystem. Grizzly bears are keystone species – they play a critical role in maintaining the structure and biodiversity of ecosystems. They also have one of the slowest reproductive rates of any mammal in North America, with mature females having only 2-3 cubs every 3-4 years.     

The results of this research will be used to inform and update policies regarding the fate of orphaned grizzly cubs and best practices for rewilding efforts in Canada and the United States.



From the Field: Project Rewild Returns from Bella Coola




 Arthur, Raven, Isa, and Cedar, four orphaned grizzly bear cubs, were successfully returned to their wild home near Bella Coola, B.C. Dr. Lana Ciarniello is monitoring their movements and habitat use with the help of GPS collars.



Two six-month old male grizzly cubs were tragically orphaned near Vanderhoof, B.C. Thanks to the rescue efforts of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, the cubs are now being cared for at the shelter in Smithers, BC. 



Grizzly Bear Foundation returns from an unforgettable adventure near Bella Coola in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. The area we visited is now home to four orphaned grizzly cubs rescued in the fall of 2020 and released Spring 2021.



Currently, Rollo, Ragnar, Oso, Kare, and Sigrid are being cared for at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, BC. These four males and one female from three different family groups will be rewilded Spring 2022.


Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS) is the only wildlife shelter in North America permitted to raise and release orphaned grizzly bear cubs, and they hold extensive expertise. Over 30 grizzly bears have been rescued and released by NLWS. As a partner in this study, NLWS cares for the orphaned cubs for one year prior to their release, providing food, shelter, medical care, and lots of love. Peter and his passionate and dedicated team work incredibly hard to give wildlife a second chance at life in the wild. 

Biologists and veterinarians from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development: Wildlife Branch provide guidance and support for this project and oversee the cubs' handling and welfare. As well, Ministry of Environment: Conservation Officers manage the capture and release of the cubs.

Photos FEATURED ON THIS PAGE ARE by Taylor Green, John E Marriott, Connor Stefanison and Nick Quenville