Grizzly Bear Foundation publishes and distributes information on the history, ecology, conservation, management, and economic impacts of grizzly bears.
In May 2017, Grizzly Bear Foundation appointed a Research Advisory Committee to identify knowledge gaps and advise us on future research priorities. The committee provides a well rounded opinion through the lenses of ecology, social science, traditional ecological knowledge, conservation, and animal welfare to ensure we are considering a broad range of research opportunities.
A major theme that has crystallized through ongoing discussion with our Research Advisory Committee is that of food security. Human population expansion and resource management coupled with climate change are impacting the quantity and quality of grizzly bear food sources. We are currently undertaking research to examine the impact of climate change and human management practices on two key grizzly bear food sources: salmon and wild berries.
Grizzly Bear Foundation focuses its research efforts on priorities identified through its existing and ongoing work as well as through the advice of our Research Advisory Committee. From time to time we may issue calls for proposals for specific research projects, which will be posted here. If you’d like to be notified of our calls for proposals, please request to join our research mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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
There are currently five orphaned grizzly bear cubs being cared for at NLWS: Raven (female), Isa (female), and Arthur (male) are from one family group, and Muwin (female) and Cedar (female) are sisters from another. All were tragically orphaned in 2020 near Bella Coola, BC and will be released back into their home range this June. Dr. Lana Ciarniello will monitor their survival and success post-release with the help of GPS collars.
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.
Dr. Lana Ciarniello is an Independent Research Scientist, Co-Chair of the IUCN Bear Specialist Group’s Human-Bear Conflict Expert Team, and member of the newly formed North American Bear Expert Team. Lana has been researching black bears and grizzly bears since 1993. Her work has informed bear conservation strategies across the globe, and we are extremely grateful for her expertise and leadership as the Principal Investigator on Project Rewild.
Peter Langen is the President and Co-founder of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS). 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. Learn more about their amazing work at www.wildlifeshelter.com
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.