The cub, named Tika, was rescued by a conservation officer just before Christmas 2012 when he wandered away from the woods and into a residential backyard.
He was transported to the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, which runs a pilot rehab center in partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and British Columbia’s forests and environment ministries.
Angelika Langen, who runs the facility with her husband Peter, said the “weak and skinny six-month-old cub weighed about a third of what he should have weighed when he arrived.”
Tika had bulked up to more than 158 pounds by the time he left for home this week.
“He spent the winter noshing on meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, dandelions and his favorite treat – grapes,” said Langen. “He’s a feisty little fellow.”
“He’s just a cutie and a really nice little bear,” added Langen as she took Tika to a remote part of Golden. “He is all healthy and rambunctious so we’re very excited that he recuperated this well.”
Langen admitted to having mixed emotions about setting Tika free.
“It’s always a little bit of a concern because you don’t know what they encounter out there,” said Langen.
Tika has been fitted with a satellite collar that will be used to monitor his movements for the next 18 months. It will help researchers determine whether releasing orphaned bears back into the wild is truly feasible. The collar, which costs $5000, is funded through IFAW.
Tika is the eleventh grizzly to be rescued, rehabilitated and released from the Northern Lights Wildlife Society.
While two of the collars worn by female bears have malfunctioned, most of the data returned from the other grizzlies has shown a successful transition back into the wild.
The Langens say they will know their program has officially succeeded when one of the rescued female bears assimilates well enough to mate with a wild bear. This is something that has not happened yet.
The Langens are happy to give Tika a second chance for a new life and hope for the best for his future.
Photo Credit: NorthernLightsWildlifeSociety