And the Winners Are…

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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 WinnerA 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!

And the Winners are…

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I am extremely excited to announce that my two-part fundraiser for the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, British Columbia raised an amazing $22,888 for the shelter, which is well beyond any of our expectations.  The shelter owners Peter and Angelika Langen were overjoyed with the number of donations and the success of the campaign and would like to personally pass along their thanks to each and every one of you that donated or promoted the contest through your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  In total, over 7 days in June 2013 and 10 days in May 2014, 163 of you donated money towards the care and rehabilitation of little guys like Norman (pictured below on Friday, May 9th when I visited the shelter on the final day of the fundraiser) so that they can be released back into the wild in their home ranges (Norman will be released back into the Penticton area in Spring 2015).

Norman photographed in his enclosure at the Shelter on May 9th, 2014

I was overwhelmed with the generosity of all of you and honestly had no idea we could have such a positive impact on the shelter.  Not only will this provide much-needed funding for projects such as the completion of their volunteer staff quarters and the new grizzly bear enclosure, but most importantly it gave Angelika and Peter and their staff the money they needed to purchase milk for all of the babies they’ll be taking in over the coming months (milk is one of the Shelter’s most costly day-to-day expenses).

So as a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you, it’s time to announce the various winners of the fundraising contest!  The Shelter staff did a draw on Sunday morning to determine each of the winners, and they are as follows:

Day in the Field Photographing with Me (which automatically went to the highest donation):

– Corrine Tocher of Shawnigan Lake, BC

The Trip to the Shelter (drawn out of all donations of $100 or more — and sponsored by Hawkair and Chez Josette Bed and Breakfast):

– Noriko Hessman of Edmonton, AB

20″x30″ Photo Prints (drawn out of all donations of $25 or more):

– Candice Hueppelsheuesr of Blackfalds, AB

– Dietlinde Wall of Calgary, AB

– Shirley Anderson of Pentiction, BC

And I also added two additional 20″x30″ prints to be drawn from all donations of $200 or more (because of the number of large donations the fundraiser received, I felt it was only fair to add a few more prizes for some of the biggest donators).  The winners of these two additional prints are:

– Kyle Breckenridge of Calgary, AB

– Jonathan Huyer of Canmore, AB

Congratulations to all of the winners, I’ll be in touch with each of you to arrange your prize when I return from my Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Photo Tour after May 19th/20th.  And thank you once again to Hawkair and Chez Josette B&B for their generous donations towards the Trip to the Shelter for our winner, Noriko Hessman!  I would highly recommend either business to any of you traveling to the Smithers region (for Chez Josette) or flying from Calgary or Vancouver to Smithers, Terrace, or Prince Rupert (I use Hawkair each year for my Spirit Bear Photography trips).

Thank you again everyone, wish me luck on my grizzly bear trip!!

Sincerely,

John

Win Bear Prints and a Trip for Two!

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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.

Sincerely,

John

Win Bear Prints – NLWS Fundraiser!

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I am very excited today to announce a chance for all of you loyal followers and readers to win a host of cool prizes from me.  Feel like putting a 20″x30″ archival display print from my collection of more than 6,000 bear photographs on your wall?  Want to spend a full day in the field with me photographing bears and other beasts?

Then read on for details of my June fundraiser for the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada.  The NLWS is the only grizzly bear rehabilitation facility on the planet and last month I got the chance to visit the Shelter 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 277 bears back into the wild in British Columbia.  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 Shelter is home to more than just orphan bears, as they’ve already taken in three moose calves this year and they regularly rehab and release moose calves, deer fawns, and a host of smaller creatures like baby beavers, baby otters, baby raccoons, and baby foxes each year!

And rather than having me write on and on about how great the Shelter is, I thought I’d give you a first-hand look at what they do and why I’m doing a fundraiser for them. Check out this short (and VERY exciting, haha!) 8-minute video I put together from my visit in May (or click here to view the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter video full-size on youtube:

The Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter fundraising efforts

I first contacted the Shelter two years ago in May when two young grizzly cubs (Quill and Morant) were orphaned in Banff National Park after their mother (Dawn) was killed by a train near Lake Louise the day after Cai Priestley and I had photographed her.

I spent quite a bit of time in the following days trying to convince Parks Canada to ship the undersized and underweight cubs to the Shelter in B.C., but in the end Parks decided to leave the cubs to fend for themselves (while both bears are believed to have survived two years on their own, Quill in particular has been in all sorts of trouble with humans and would be considered a long-shot at this point to become an adult bear given Parks Canada’s poor track record with young adult male grizzlies in the Lake Louise area).

Fast-forward two years and through chance circumstances and the belief of one individual (thanks Carolee) that I could help the Shelter out with fundraising efforts, I got back in touch with the Langens and got to spend an incredible four hours at the Shelter in May touring the facilities and seeing their 2012 bears (32 black bears and 3 grizzlies) first-hand just weeks before their 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 currently needs:

– 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

– 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

– 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

– a new Siberian lynx pen.  Years ago the Shelter took in a pet Siberian lynx that was about to be euthanized by a vet. Unfortunately, the lynx is now using a space that would be better suited to bears than to a pet lynx and Angelika would love to move the lynx to a small new pen.  Projected cost: $6,000

– 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

And here is how we’re going to raise money for the Shelter:

The fundraiser is going to be as simple as possible.  Between now and the end of June, if you donate $25 or more to the Shelter (donate here), 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!

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 2013 or July 2014.  Between now and the end of June, if you donate $100 or more to the Shelter (donate here) you will automatically be eligible to win a full weekend at the 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)…so we’ll fly you from Calgary (July 2013 only) or Vancouver (2013 or 2014) up to Smithers, BC, put you up in a hotel/inn near the Shelter, and then you’ll get to help with the baby animals for an entire weekend, feeding baby moose with a bottle, helping out baby foxes, etc.  This is an incredibly unique opportunity because 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 the opportunity to go there for a weekend would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of you. Note that this is fully transferrable, so if you win it and want to gift it to someone else, you can!

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 the end of June.  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 transferrable as a gift to someone else.

I really hope many of you will consider donating by the end of this month.  The Shelter is a charitable organization in Canada, so Canadians will all receive a tax receipt for any donations you make.  But perhaps the best part of your donation 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 Shelter’s larger projects.

Thanks everyone, please let me know what you think of this fundraiser here in the Comments section or over on Facebook/Twitter.

Enjoy the video!

John