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Our History

The Founders of the Society, Angelika and Peter Langen immigrated to Canada in 1982. Both trained animal keepers, they had previously worked in zoos in Germany. After living in Smithers for several years, they became aware of the fact that there was no place for injured and/or orphaned wildlife to go to and that such animals ended up being killed. With great enthusiasm they approached the local wildlife branch only to find out that rehabilitation programs were met with great uneasiness by the government. After years of discussions and formulating permits, their dream finally became true in 1989.

At first the shelter was used very reluctantly by the authorities. But as first success became apparent and as the public became aware of the shelter's existence, the demands on the shelter grew rapidly. With the Langen’s covering most of the costs and almost all of the work involved, the shelter soon reached dimensions that required a new approach in order to secure adequate housing and care for the animals in need. As a result the Northern Lights Wildlife Society was formed in 2001 and in 2002 the Society became a registered charity. The shelter has now entered a new era. The board is actively looking for sponsors and volunteers to ensure the shelter's ability to care for all wildlife that is brought to our attention.

Though all mammals and birds are accepted, we generally forward birds to other shelters as they have longstanding experience and excellent facilities.  Over the years, due to space availability, NLWS has become a specialist in  bear, moose and deer rehabilitation. The moose and deer raised at the shelter and released into the nearby park have done extremely well and have proven the success of the program, by producing and raising young in the wild year after year. Careful management, thrives to prevent the animals from becoming too human oriented, as that would prove to be a hazard to their own health (i.e. hunting season), as well as to the safety of humans ( i.e. hikers )

Fortunately most animals seem to make a distinct difference when dealing with their handlers or strangers. This fact ensures that proper care can be given, while still securing the safety of other humans.  Though we strive to prevent rehabbed animals to engage into conflict situations with humans that will never be completely preventable. Wildlife and human conflict issues are an ongoing sad reality and rehabbed wildlife is not exempt from such situations.  

Along with the care of the animals, NLWS also feels that education and scientific work is of great importance to ensure our coexistence with our magnificent wild animal population.

NLWS actively offers programs for schools and groups throughout the winter and works with university students from around the world, offering unique study opportunities with the animals in care.

In addition NLWS has begun communications with the government to address rehabilitation of large carnivore mammals. As a result of these talks, BC is now world leading by offering the first Grizzly Rehabilitation Pilot Project since 2007.

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New Black Bear Enclosure needed

With a record number of 25 cubs Double of our usual intake at this time of year) in care space is at a premium at NLWS.  Do to some aging enclosures we only have room for a maximum of 30 Black Bears and with an average admittance of 20 bears in the fall month (September, October, November)  we are facing the very real threat of turning bears in need away.  The solution is a new enclosure and the repair of the existing enclosures to once again allow full use.  In order to meet the financial requirements to turn these plans into reality a couple of Fundraisers are coming up.  On August 10th,  John Marriott will feature NLWS  in his Exposed Series and combine it with some incredible prizes to be won by those that donate towards NLWS.

Two more cubs arrive at NLWS

Two cubs, that lost their mother in a motor vehicle accident near Castlegar, are the newest guests at NLWS. The two sisters have settled in well and will be in quarantine for a few weeks before joining the other cubs.  Names will be chosen on September 11th on our Facebook page if you want to participate.

Nicole's Blog 1 (NLWS Volunteer)

I had thought thirty six bears would make a lot of noise. But except for the odd soft moan the cubs are pretty quiet. A few of them sit in trees, a couple more are chasing each other around like kids in a game of tag, and one sits comfortably propped up against the chain link fence that separates these orphaned bear cubs from freedom. If it weren’t for the fence and the generosity of so many people and businesses, chances of survival would be very slim for these bears and the hundreds of animals who have already been rehabilitated and released back into the wild by Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, B.C. 

My head is spinning with new impressions and information: how to clean the quarantine cages, where to put the feed buckets after cleaning them, what animals get how much of which food. “To cut up a deer bucket” is volunteer speak for chopping fruit and veggies for the deer fawns who also get a second chance here. One of the fawns currently in care owes her life to a farm…