Monday, August 24, 2015

And the Winners Are...

Well, we did it! You did it!!

Not only did we raise the $13,000 I set out as our goal for the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter fundraiser for a new truck, but we actually raised a staggering $23,757.60 in the final five days!! As our totals climbed dramatically throughout the week, I was privy to some truly wonderful text messages and emails from the Shelter's founders, Peter and Angelika Langen:

3 hours into the fundraiser:
Angelika: "$2600 so far, I am speechless!!"

5 hours into the fundraiser, when we hit $3,000, meaning that Hauser Bears would automatically contribute an extra $15,000:
Angelika: "We did it!! We matched the challenge. Now we have $30,000+ towards a new truck, I am so excited if my leg didn't hurt so bad I'd be dancing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

The first night, after we'd raised almost $5,000:
Angelika: "I am crying tears of joy, this is so exciting! Exciting may be a huge understatement!"

The second night, after another $2,000 in donations:
Angelika: "WOW, we are SO happy!!"

The third night, after yet another $2,000 in donations:
Angelika: "This is so amazing! We just can't believe it!"

On the final night:
Angelika: "We are over the goal! SO, SO awesome!! We did it!!"

So yes indeed, we ALL did it! The truck fundraiser as a whole, including the incredible matching contribution of $15,000 from the UK charity Hauser Bears, raised a whopping $54,254.14 (you can check out the entire breakdown here on the Shelter's website). This means that Angelika and Peter and their gang of incredible volunteers at the Shelter are going to have a new ride soon (they're currently in negotiations with a truck dealership in Prince George, British Columbia) and that the Shelter will continue to be able to save bears and other orphaned wildlife from across the province long into the future!

Your incredible support means that little guys like this will continue to receive help from the NLWS in the years to come!

Congratulations to everyone involved, especially to those of you that donated directly or were able to share the fundraiser contest on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

Here is a comprehensive list of all of the winners of the various prizes we had up for grabs in the fundraiser. If you see your name on this list, please contact me directly via email so that we can arrange your prize details.

Grand Prize Winner -- A Trip for Two for the Great Bear Chalet in Bella Coola, BC
(thank you once again to Jefferson Bray and the Great Bear Chalet for this incredible prize!)
Marcella Kyrein - Prince George, BC

A Day in the Field Photographing with John E. Marriott (to the highest donation):
Esther Snow - Cranbrook, BC

A Day's Private Visit at NLWS (a prize we added for the second highest donation):
Daniella Kohl - Miami, Florida

30"x45" Glossy Acrylic Print of 'All in the Family' by John E. Marriott
Gregory Heath - Calgary, AB

One Full Set of signed and personalized Coffee Table Books by John E. Marriott
Lorelei Stevenson - Cranbrook, BC

12"x18" Glossy Print of 'Grizz Family Bums' by Cai Priestley
Susan Macdonald - Livingston, West Lothian, UK

12"x18" Glossy Print of 'Startled Cub' by Cai Priestley
Jane Potter - Calgary, AB

12"x18" Stretched Canvas of 'Tuxedo Cubs' by Brandon T. Brown
Margaret Johnson - Maple Ridge, BC

12"x18" Stretched Canvas of 'Mister Mud' by Brandon T. Brown
Rosa Jongsma - High Level, AB

16"x24" Glossy Print of any of John E. Marriott's grizzly bear images -- your choice!
Dawn Minerick - Republic, Michigan

16"x24" Glossy Print of any of John E. Marriott's grizzly bear images -- your choice!
Loretta Stadler Franklin Lakes, NJ

24"x36" Glossy Print of any of John E. Marriott's grizzly bear images -- your choice!
Marlie Kelsey - Chemainus, BC

24"x36" Glossy Print of any of John E. Marriott's grizzly bear images -- your choice!
Heather Sapergia - Prince George, BC

Angelika at the NLWS also had this to add to the prize pile:
"We had many donations that did not meet the $50 mark, nevertheless your support is very important and much appreciated. To show our gratitude for all of these smaller donations that added up to a very large amount, we decided to have a special draw for a 16"x24" glossy print of any of John Marriott's grizzly bear images (your choice) out of all of the donations we received of less than $50!"

Special Draw Winner, 16"x24" Glossy Print by John E. Marriott
Tammy Vanderwijk - Grande Prairie, AB

Thank you once again, everyone, I don't think any of us could have imagined that the fundraiser would be so successful!

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Win Big Prizes and Get NLWS a New Truck!

How would a gorgeous, gigantic acrylic print of one of my grizzly bear photographs look hanging in your house or office? Or perhaps you'd rather win a trip for two to a grizzly bear viewing lodge in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada?

Raise your paw if you'd like to help rehab orphaned grizzly bear cubs AND win some amazing prizes!

That's right, everyone, it's FUNDRAISER time! And once again we're giving away a pile of prizes for donations to my beloved Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter (NLWS) in Smithers, British Columbia (the only grizzly bear rehabilitation facility on the planet -- they have successfully rehabbed and released 18 grizzly cubs to date, along with more than 350 black bears!), so that they can continue saving bears from around the province (and beyond, if officials in Alberta, Montana, and Wyoming start cooperating as public pressure mounts to save orphaned grizzly bear cubs).

This time around, the NLWS is in desperate need of a new truck for transporting bear cubs to and from their rescue locations. The old truck is on its final legs (actually, it's more like it's on life support at this point) and for the past month, the NLWS has been running an indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 Canadian dollars for the purchase of a new truck capable of driving long distances and towing bear trailers. While the campaign has been successful to a degree (it has raised $12,050 to this point on August 17th), it remains far short of its ultimate goal.

However, it's not quite as bleak as it may seem, because rather than having to raise $28,000 more in the final week of the campaign, we only have to raise $13,000 ($10,000 less than what our original NLWS fundraiser raised back in April 2014!). The other $15,000 is going to come courtesy of the amazing British animal charity, Hauser Bears, which has agreed to match the first $15,000 in the campaign dollar-for-dollar, meaning if we can raise another $3,000 in the next five days, Hauser Bears will instantly chip in $15,000 Canadian towards the end goal of raising $40,000!

But we're not setting our sights on just raising that extra $3,000; rather, we're aiming for the full $40K, which means we need to raise $13,000 in five days.

And this is where we step in with a slew of prizes so amazing that it will make it even more worth your while to donate to this incredible cause.

How to Donate to Help Orphaned Grizzly Cubs

Here's how it's going to work for the donations (and note that because the NLWS is a non-profit charitable organization, ALL Canadian donators will be provided with a tax receipt for their donation):

[Note: All donations will be through Canada Helps rather than via the indiegogo campaign, as the NLWS has to pay 9% on all indiegogo donations and we'd much rather they keep that 9% for the new truck! You can donate to the General campaign for NLWS, or directly to the Going the Extra Mile for Wildlife campaign from the drop-down menu -- both will be used for the prize draws]

Donate $50 -- automatic entry to win any of prizes below (including any of the Grand Prizes) in a random draw administered by NLWS staff on Monday, August 24th.

Donate $50-$499 -- one entry for every $50 you donate  for the Grand Prizes listed below (for instance, donate $250 and get 5 entries into the draw for any of the Grand Prizes listed below), and one entry to win any of the other prizes below.

Donate $500 or more -- two entries for every $50 you donate for the Grand Prizes listed below (for instance, donate $750 and get 15 entries into the draw for any of the Grand Prizes listed below), and one entry to win any of the other prizes below.

Highest Donation -- win a Day in the Field with me, photographing grizzlies or wolves, or whatever you want to try to find, from dawn till dusk in the Canadian Rockies in 2016 (dates and locations to be arranged between myself and the highest donator). This prize will also be transferrable, if you choose.

So the bottom line is, if you want to win ANY of these amazing prizes, then donating a mere $50 gets you into the game for the Grand Prizes and gets you equal odds for any of the other prizes. And the more you donate, the better your chances are for the Grand Prizes or for the Day in the Field with me.

The Prizes

[Note: these prizes are available to all donators, including those outside the US and Canada]

Grand Prize #1 - a 2-night/3-day All-inclusive Bear Viewing Trip for Two to the Great Bear Chalet in Bella Coola, British Columbia in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. I've personally photographed grizzlies in the Bella Coola area five times in the past decade and have to say that this is one of the premier grizzly bear photography and viewing locations in the world. Thanks to the generosity of owner Jefferson Bray, this trip will include airport shuttle to and from the Bella Coola Airport (if required), transportation/fuel costs for all excursions, accommodation (private suite with 3-piece bath), gourmet meals prepared with local, fresh ingredients, and professionally guided bear tours (all Guides are accredited members of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of B.C.).
Value: $2400 Cdn.


The Grand Prize: an all-inclusive Trip for Two to the Great Bear Chalet in Bella Coola, British Columbia

Grand Prize #2 - a 30"x45" glossy acrylic print of 'All in the Family', one of my most popular grizzly bear prints. Ready to hang and shipped right to your door anywhere in Canada or the U.S. (and for those of you outside of Canada or the U.S., we'll figure out a way to get the print to you, too, though it may be a regular non-acrylic print to make shipping easier).
Value: $1095 Cdn.


Win a 30"x45" glossy acrylic print of All in the Family by John E. Marriott

Highest Donation: Day in the Field with me, photographing grizzlies or wolves, or whatever you want to try to find, from dawn till dusk in the Canadian Rockies in 2016 (dates and locations to be arranged between myself and the highest donator). This prize will also be transferrable, if you choose.

The Highest Donation wins a Day in the Field with me chasing grizzlies and wolves and whatever else we can find!

All Other Prizes:

One full set of signed and personalized John E. Marriott coffee table books, including Banff & Lake Louise: Images of Banff National Park, Wildlife of the Canadian Rockies: A Glimpse at Life on the Wild Side, and The Canadian Rockies: Banff, Jasper & Beyond. Value: $100 Cdn.

A full set of coffee table books by John E. Marriott

12"x18" glossy print of Grizz Family Bums by Banff/UK wildlife photographer Cai Priestley (visit Cai's website or follow him on Facebook or Instagram). Value: $150 Cdn.


12"x18" Glossy Print of Grizz Family Bums by Cai Priestley

12"x18" glossy print of Startled Cub by Banff/UK wildlife photographer Cai Priestley (visit Cai's website or follow him on Facebook or Instagram). Value: $150 Cdn.


12"x18" Glossy Print of Startled Cub by Cai Priestley

12"x18" stretched canvas of Tuxedo Cubs by Canmore wildlife photographer Brandon T. Brown (visit Brandon's website or follow him on Facebook or Instagram). Value: $200 Cdn.


12"x18" Stretched Canvas of Tuxedo Cubs by Brandon T. Brown

12"x18" stretched canvas of Mister Mud by Canmore wildlife photographer Brandon T. Brown (visit Brandon's website or follow him on Facebook or Instagram). Value: $200 Cdn.


12"x18" Stretched Canvas of Mister Mud by Brandon T. Brown

16"x24" glossy print of any of my grizzly bear images, your choice! Value: $225 Cdn.

16"x24" glossy print of any of my grizzly bear images, your choice! Value: $225 Cdn.

24"x36" glossy print of any of my grizzly bear images, your choice! Value: $450 Cdn.

24"x36" glossy print of any of my grizzly bear images, your choice! Value: $450 Cdn.


The Thinker by John E. Marriott -- 16"x24" and 24"x36" prints available to be won

Please consider donating today: the fundraiser ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 21st, 2015. All draws will be made by NLWS staff on Monday, August 24th, with winners announced on this blog at that time.

Thank you to everyone involved, particularly to those of who have donated items or money to this worthy cause. And a very special thank you to the wonderful and amazing staff at the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter, we can't wait to see you riding around in your new truck soon (though we hope it's not because more cubs have to be rescued)!

[UPDATE on Day 3 -- we're now halfway through the fundraiser and we've raised just over half of our goal of $13,000. Please keep those donations coming in, we need another $6,500 in the final two and a half days!]

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Two Yellowstone Cubs in need of Help

The internet furor over Cecil the Lion and his killer, Walter Palmer, has subsided a bit this week, only to be replaced by a tragic wildlife situation south of the border in Yellowstone National Park. On Friday, August 7th (one week ago), 63 year-old Montana hiker, Lance Crosby, was attacked, killed, and partially consumed by a female grizzly bear known locally as Blaze.

Yesterday, after six days of deliberation, Yellowstone officials decided to "euthanize" (aka KILL) Blaze, and send her two young cubs off to a zoo in the eastern United States, essentially doubling down on the tragedy of Crosby's death by not only killing Blaze, but also sentencing her two cubs to a life behind bars.

As a result, a number of prominent nature photographers in Canada and the U.S. have begun an overnight online campaign calling for the cubs to be rehabilitated in the world's only grizzly bear rehabilitation facility, the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada -- the very same rehab facility that I have been working with closely since May 2013.

Following is an impassioned plea from wildlife photographer Simon Jackson (follow him on Facebook at Ghost Bear Photography), along with images provided courtesy of Sandy Sisti with Wild at Heart Images. A huge thank you to both of them for their actions in this fight.

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Simon Jackson, Ghost Bear Photography:

This morning, it was announced that both of the grizzly cubs involved in last Friday's fatal attack in Yellowstone will be sent to the Toledo Zoo. Not a rehabilitation facility - not even a sanctuary for orphaned cubs - but a zoo.

In a tragedy that is continually being compounded by decisions that make this entire mess worse, it is confounding as to why Yellowstone refused to do their due diligence and at least explore rehabilitating and re-releasing these cubs-of-the-year into the wild.

SIGN THIS PETITION TO URGE THESE CUBS BE REHABILITATED: http://bit.ly/1h79hUb

Blaze with a young cub - Photography by Sandy Sisti, Wild at Heart Images


Yesterday morning, Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in BC offered to rehabilitate the cubs. Though there were hurdles to clear with moving the bears across the border, their track record of successfully releasing 18 grizzly cubs back into the wild spoke for itself. People of all walks of life offered to help and make the crossing possible, all it required was for Yellowstone to reach out to Angelika from Northern Lights.


Angelika waited all day for a phone call that never came.

Then Yellowstone announced the cubs would never return to the wild, but be placed in a zoo for life.

According to media reports, the cubs won't be on "display" for at least another month, but in the meantime will be gradually introduced to humans and feeding times. This means the window to reverse the decision is closing rapidly as soon these bears might be too habituated to rehabilitate.

It's unclear how involved the Toledo Zoo was in discussions with Yellowstone on the fate of these cubs, but it is critical they realize that they didn't save these cubs from death. Their only act - even if their hearts are in the right place (and I'm sure they are) - has been to deprive these animals of the right to full lives as wild bears. Not to mention, they are depriving a genetically isolated population of grizzly bears two reproducing females, critical to advancing the overall health of the ecosystem.

It must be said, that if the Toledo Zoo does not rescind their offer to take these cubs and encourage Yellowstone and the National Park Service to embrace the proven track record of rehabilitation, they are complicit in this disastrous series of poor decisions. Their reputation - which is already very poor after a sloth bear they had on loan died of dehydration while under Toledo's care - will be forever tarnished by preventing these grizzly cubs from living in the wild.

We urge you to contact the Toledo Zoo (Email: toledozooinfo@toledozoo.org and Phone: 1-419-385-5721) and ask they change their minds. We ask that you contact Yellowstone and the Secretary of the Interior (as well as your representatives) and urge them to re-think this well intended, yet awful decision.

And, of course, this issue is really just starting. The elephants in the room are the questions that linger.

Why won't Yellowstone embrace the proven concept of rehabilitation, given their mandate to protect and enhance the grizzly population?


Simon Jackson asks, "Why won't Yellowstone embrace the proven concept of rehabilitation?" - Photo by Sandy Sisti

Why aren't new protocols for handling bear cubs involved in attacks being put in place?

Why haven't new rules been drawn up to make bear spray mandatory, potentially saving the lives of people and bears?

Why was Elephant Back trail re-opened immediately, even with new grizzly sightings being reported? Has no one learned anything from this tragedy?

Ultimately, we're not the best suited to lead this fight and are working to find the right voices who have the expertise to lead the campaign. But we will continue to do everything within our power to ask the questions, get the answers, and advocate for positive change to ensure this grizzly sow did not die in vain.

Thank you for your ongoing support. 

Simon Jackson

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Blaze with her two young cubs in 2015 - Photograph by Sandy Sisti, Wild at Heart Images

For more information and the full story behind Blaze's death and how you can help contact officials involved in the decision-making on this, please read Simon's blog post, Outrage in Yellowstone, here: http://bit.ly/1PacigQ

Do: Sign the petition to rehabilitate the cubs: http://bit.ly/1h79hUb

Do: Call US Senator Danes office in Bozeman 1-406-587-3446 and ask him to help get these cubs relocated into a rehabilitation center.

Do: Contact the Toledo Zoo (Email: toledozooinfo@toledozoo.org and Phone: 1-419-385-5721) and ask CEO and Executive Director Jeff Sailer and the Board of Directors to change their minds.

Read: Article from Animal Justice: http://animaljustice.ca/media-releases/animal-justice-calls-for-release-of-grizzly-cubs-to-rehab-not-zoo/

Read: Article from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201508/yellowstone-kills-blaze-bear-who-attacked-trail-hiker

Photos: Sandy Sisti - Wild at Heart Images-Wildlife and Nature Photography

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