'Littlefoot' returns to Fernie

Black bear
Black bear 'Littlefoot' was released back into the outskirts of Fernie last week after taking part in the Northern Lights Wildlife Society pilot project.
— image credit: Submitted by Northern Lights Wildlife Society

After a three-day journey from Smithers, B.C., grizzly bear ‘Littlefoot’ was released back to his wild habitat in Fernie last week.

Northern Light Wildlife Society took in the bear as part of their pilot project, after finding the one and a half-year-old orphaned and struggling to survive.

“Most of these cubs are orphaned due to human interference of some sort and we’re just trying to set the scales straight and give them a decent chance after they’ve lost their mom,” owner and operator of Northern Light Wildlife Society Angelika Langden said. “Initially when he came, he was quite grateful to just get food and not have to search for it.”

When Littlefoot was taken into the pilot project he weighed a meager 49 lbs.

In just over two months the bear gained nearly a hundred pounds, weighing in at 144 lbs upon his release.

“He trained his muscles and himself back into fitness again and that made him all ready for the release,” said Langden. “We’re quite confident he has good, solid chances now.”

With assistance from the B.C. government and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Northern Light Wildlife Society was able to launch their program in 2007.

Over the past seven years, 12 bears have been re-released into the wild, but two of them were killed after continually getting into campsites.

Despite this, Langden still has high hopes for Littlefoot.

“He should have no problem to adjust to it [his natural habitat] again,” she said.  “He was quite happy to get out. He was quite happy to have solid soil, and he started digging right away and looking for goodies underneath the rotten wood.”

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