Win Bear Prints and a Trip for Two!

Posted on

Do any of you feel like hanging one of my beautiful 20″ x 30″ bear photographs on your wall? How about spending a full day in the field with me photographing bears, wolves, and whatever else we can find here in the Canadian Rockies? Or perhaps you’d rather enjoy an exclusive weekend being whizzed up from Vancouver or Calgary on a flight with Hawkair to help feed and care for all of the baby wildlife at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society’s (NLWS) shelter in Smithers, British Columbia?

Would this look good hanging on your wall in a 20″ x 30″ print? Then keep on reading for a chance to win it!

If any of those three things sound like they’re up your alley, then read on for all the details on how you can win these prizes in the next ten days as part of the second half of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society fundraiser I began in June 2013 to help raise money for the world’s only grizzly bear cub rehabilitation facility and one of Canada’s best orphaned wildlife rehabilitation shelters.

As I just mentioned, we started this fundraiser last June and fully intended to wrap it up by June 30th, 2013. However, Mother Nature had other plans: at 3:21 a.m. in the early hours of June 19th — a week into the contest/fundraiser — my wife and I got a knock at our door from the Canmore fire department and were asked to evacuate our house immediately. For the next two days, we watched in horror as the tiny, meter-wide creek behind our house turned into a raging torrent that tore out the Trans-Canada Highway and caused over fifty million dollars in damage to our town (you can watch my videos of the event as it unfolded here and here and here on my youtube channel).

Now that things have finally settled down on the flood front and the first bears of the year are starting to appear after a winter’s worth of sleep, I thought now was as good a time as any to revive the final ten days of the fundraiser and start doling out some pretty cool prizes to those of you that choose to donate to the shelter to help them add to their amazing legacy as the world’s premier rehabilitation facility for orphaned black and grizzly bear cubs (and baby foxes, beavers, otters, raccoons, mountain goats, deer, moose, and a host of other big and small creatures!).

I was extremely fortunate last May to get a chance to visit the shelter firsthand (the shelter is closed to the public) on a private tour from owners Peter and Angelika Langen to learn what this amazing operation is all about.

Founded in 1990 by the Langens, the Shelter has rehabilitated and released more than 300 bears back into the wild in British Columbia (check out the video I took of the shelter last year).  And in 2007, they became the first and only wildlife shelter in the world to begin rehabbing and releasing orphan grizzly bear cubs back into their home ranges!

The Society has rehabbed and released more than 300 bears back into the wild since 1990!

When I was there last year, I got to spend an incredible four hours touring the facilities and seeing their 2012 bears (32 black bears and 3 grizzlies) just weeks before their 2013 releases back into the wild.

The visit quite literally moved me to tears.  I was astonished to see how much the Langens have accomplished with their limited resources, and I was buoyed beyond belief with the countless success stories that have come and gone from the Shelter over the years.  But throughout it all, I continuously had a feeling that the Shelter could use an infusion of funds, that they were operating at near capacity and that they were getting dangerously close to having to reject baby bears in the near future if they weren’t able to expand soon and upgrade some of their pens and buildings.

So I asked Angelika what was on her wish-list and I resolved to do my best to help her raise some of that money.

Here is a list of what the Shelter needed as of June 2013, with notes for this year accompanying the list:

– a completed volunteer staff accommodation building.  The current staff accomm is in Angelika’s house and is wearing on the entire operation as they require more and more volunteers to keep things running smoothly and they’re running out of room in her house to do so.  Fortunately, the framing is already in place for a real staff accommodation building, but it still requires finishing inside (drywall, paint, etc) before anyone can move into it.  Projected cost: $30,000 [Angelika says this remains one of the shelter’s biggest needs in 2014]

– funding to help with bear releases and captures.  This is one of the shelter’s largest ongoing costs, as they have to ship the current group of black bear cubs back to their home ranges across British Columbia and collect new cubs as they are called in [the shelter currently has 10 black bear cubs that will need to be released back to the wild in Spring 2014]

– a new grizzly bear pen.  The current pen is great for grizzlies, but the adjoining black bear pen was at maximum capacity this year with 32 black bears.  If Angelika can raise enough money to build a new grizzly bear pen beside the current one (there is already land set aside for this), then the old grizzly bear pen can be joined up with the current black bear pen, effectively increasing the size of the black bear pen by almost 400%, greatly enhancing its ability to take on more black bears!!  Projected cost: $50,000 [this is now under construction in 2014, though additional funding is still required]

– an upgraded vet clinic/building.  The current clinic building is run-down and rough.  Angelika would like to completely clean it out and refinish the interior so that it is easier to maintain and more presentable when media visits to film or photograph new baby animals arriving at the Shelter (these media visits and original photographs from Angelika’s staff of the new babies are critical in fund-raising efforts for day-to-day operations). Projected cost: $10,000

– new radio collars for bears.  The Shelter would love more money to pay for radio and gps collars for released bears so they can continue to track the success records of their released bear cubs. Projected cost: $10,000 [this continues to be a cost that the shelter needs help with in 2014]

The Prizes
And here is how we’re going to raise money for the Shelter (this is where you win the prizes!):

1. Donate $25 or more for a chance to win prints

The fundraiser is set up to be as simple as possible.  Between now and midnight on the night of Friday, May 9th, if you donate $25 or more to the Shelter (donate here and make sure you select the ‘John Marriott Fundraiser’ from the drop-down menu), you will automatically be entered into a random draw to win one of three 20″x30″ archival display prints (valued at $395 each) from my collection of more than 6,000 bear photographs, including grizzly bears, black bears, polar bears and white kermode bears!  The best part?  You get to choose the photo you want and I’ll ship it anywhere in the world!

How would this one look on your wall at 20″ x 30″?

2. Donate $100 or more for a chance to win a weekend trip to the Shelter this summer!

But that’s not it for prizes.  In fact, the best one in my opinion is a full weekend volunteering at the shelter helping with baby foxes and moose and so on in July 2014.  Between now and midnight on the night of Friday, May 9th, if you donate $100 or more to the Shelter (donate here and make sure you select the ‘John Marriott Fundraiser’ from the drop-down menu) you will automatically be eligible to win a full weekend at the wildlife shelter volunteering with the baby wildlife, everything from beavers to otters to foxes to deer fawns (depending what they have on hand – note that you will not get to help with the baby bears because in order to avoid habituation to humans, the bear feeding is done by just one person throughout the year).  Thanks to the generosity of the flight specialists over at Central Mountain Air and Hawkair, we’ll fly you over to Smithers, British Columbia from Vancouver or Calgary, and then thanks to Chez Josette B&B in Smithers, we’ll put you (and your partner if you’re willing to share a bed) up for two nights so you can spend your weekend helping the baby animals (Angelika says she’s hoping the lucky winner will get to feed baby moose and deer with bottles!). This is an incredibly unique opportunity; normally you have to volunteer for SIX months to get to go into the shelter (which is not open to the public), so I really think that this is a fantastic prize for one lucky donor, a once-in-a-lifetime trip! Note that this is fully transferable, so if you win it and want to gift it to someone else, you can!

A huge thank you to Central Mountain Air and Hawkair in BC/Alberta for donating flights!

3.  Donate for a chance to win a full day in the field photographing with me!

And the final thing in the prize pot is a full day in the field photographing bears with me in BC or Alberta (depending on the time of year and where you are located or where I will be traveling).  Normally a day in the field with me costs $1195 a pop (and I very rarely even offer it), so this day with me is going to go to the highest donation received before midnight on the night of May 9th, 2014 (make sure you select the ‘John Marriott Fundraiser’ from the drop-down menu).  Donate $250 and you’ll have a pretty good chance. Donate $500 and I’d say you’ll have a really good chance.  Donate $1000 and I’d say you’ll probably win! Note that this is also transferable as a gift to someone else.


The highest donation during the fundraiser will win a full day in the field with me chasing wolves and bears

I really hope many of you will consider donating by midnight on the night of May 9th.  The Northern Lights Wildlife Society is a charitable organization in Canada, so as an added bonus, Canadians will receive a tax receipt for any donations you make.  But perhaps the best part of your donation for each of you will be the knowledge that your money is going to be helping baby wildlife from BC get rehabilitated and released back into the wild for years to come, particularly if we can raise enough for some of the Society’s larger projects.

Thank you very much to all of you that already donated in June 2013 in the first half of this fundraiser (you are of course eligible for all of these great prizes depending on how much you donated).  We’ve already raised a substantial amount of money and I’m excited to see if we can beat our totals from last year in the next ten days.



New Cards on the Horizon!

Posted on

Those of you that have been following me for a while know by now that I’ve got a line of 51 different greeting cards that I sell through my card website,  I’m going to be adding to the line this spring and would love your help in figuring out which of these 15 images should be added.  Please let me know in the Comments section at the bottom:

‘The Yawn’

‘Snuggling Up’

‘Baby Raven’


‘Portrait of a Lynx’

‘Little Cutey II’

‘Cuddle Time’

‘Rainbow over Banff’

‘Tongue Out’

‘All in the Family’

‘Aurora over Minnewanka’

‘Bighorn Butts’

‘Little Cutey’

‘Wild Wolf’

‘Baby Bear’

Please let me know your favourites in the Comments below.  Thanks everyone!!


The cruelest April Fool’s joke

Posted on

It’s that time of year: April Fool’s Day.  When I was nine years old my Dad rushed down into my bedroom in Salmon Arm, British Columbia to tell me the news — my beloved NHLer Guy Lafleur had been traded that morning from my equally beloved Montreal Canadiens to the California Golden Seals.  I lay in bed and cried and cried, heart-broken and crushed, until finally my Dad gave my arm a gentle punch and said those infamous words, “April Fool’s!” and snuck back out of my room.

It still brings a devilish smile to my face every time I think about it, how my Dad took me at my most vulnerable and pulled a fast one on me. And since that day onwards, I’ve always tried my best to pull my own brilliant versions of April Fool’s on those around me.

Only that this time around, as we ‘celebrate’ April 1st, 2014, it’s bear lovers that are the brunt of the foolish joke: because this morning it’s no April Fool’s line when I tell you that grizzly bear hunting season opens in British Columbia, and the hills are alive with trophy hunters intent on adding a new rug or head to their grisly collections.

The beautiful big bears of the Chilcotin are once again being hunted today, after 13 years of peace

April 1st, Day One of grizzly bear hunting season in B.C., despite 87% of the province’s residents being opposed to the hunt, and despite all of the science pointing out quite clearly that the current hunt is not based on science and is not sustainable in the long-term. You can ignore the ethics of the trophy hunt all you want — why are grizzly hunters so intent on killing something that they do not eat or need to kill — but the science is supposed to be what our governments use to manage our wildlife.

So when four of the world’s most prominent grizzly bear and wildlife scientists speak out publicly about the failed science behind the BC grizzly bear hunt, I tend to listen:

Nature, the International Journal of Science, published the scientists findings, too, again coming out strongly against the grizzly hunt: 

Another gorgeous Chilcotin bear that will be under fire from grizzly hunters this morning on ‘April Fools Day’

So why isn’t the British Columbia government listening to any of this? Why are they not listening to the general public?  Those are both good questions, and I suggest you fire off a quick email to the BC Premier Christy Clark at and to Minister Steve Thomson at  (the idiot that keeps defending the hunt in the BC Legislature saying repeatedly that it’s “based on science”) to ask them exactly those questions (and please feel free to include the links to those two articles).

Check out this article for more ammunition:
Vancouver Sun columnist Stephen Hume brilliantly sums up some of the ridiculousness of the trophy hunt.  Did you know that almost a third of the bears killed are females (even though grizzly hunters are not supposed to shoot females)?  And perhaps the best/worst part of the entire article is when Hume exposes that grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia contributes the same amount to the provincial economy as the CAR ALLOWANCE for 19 cabinet ministers and their assistant ministers. No, that’s not an April Fool’s joke, either, though I wish it was.

And if you feel like getting onto Twitter to express your displeasure, feel free to tweet Premier Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) or Minister Thomson (@Steve4Kelowna).

I’m usually not that gentle in my tweets to either of them (read from bottom up to the top)

And finally, I want to point out a great article in the Huffington Post recently from a friend and colleague, Chelsea Turner: Bears are My Neighbours, and You Wouldn’t Slaughter your Neighbours.  Please take a read when you have a chance and let me know what you think of Chelsea’s opinions in my Comments section below.

Here’s to hoping that by next year, April Fool’s Day will be back to being just that…a day of funny fake jokes, not cruel real ones.

Thank you everyone for all of your support in trying to shut down the British Columbia grizzly bear hunt once and for all.