WATCH: An emotional and physically demanding day has returned seven black bears into the wilds of Vancouver Island, where they left as babies. Many of the now massive black bears nursed back to health at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre were orphaned and didn’t stand a chance if left in the wilderness at that time.
Carrying the weight of a year’s hopes and hard work, conservation officers had a firm grip on each and every black bear they toted to release cages Thursday.
“It’s a good feeling today,” said Conservation Officer Stuart Bates.
“This is a highlight for most of us. Like you’ll notice all the guys here they came from all over the Island and they’re all very happy,” said Bates.
Each heavy load was proof of a job well done. Since the seven now healthy and hefty one-year-old bears all came in as babies last year. Many of them were orphaned and would have died if left in the wild and not brought in to the caring staff at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.
“The most exciting thing for me is that these guys are going home,” said Robin Campbell of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.
“It’s a tremendous joy for us after 18 months or whatever that these bears are going home.”
The bears that have come from everywhere from Sooke to Port Alberni and Woss are headed back to wherever their big adventure began.
“We try to take them to at least the water drainage system where they came from,” said Bates.
“If they came from Campbell River, then we take them up by the Campbell River.”
Then they are turned out into the wild at just the right time when bear hunting seasons has just ended and berry season is in full swing to give these second chances the best head start their rescuers can offer.