A pair of orphaned black bears that escaped death last year when a conservation officer defied orders to kill them, are expected to be released into the wild as early as mid-June.

Jordan and Athena are now about 15 months old and have been living at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre on Vancouver Island since their mother was killed by a conservation officer.

Wildlife manager Julie Mackey says the bears will be fitted with GPS collars to track their movements, heart beats, temperatures and hibernation routines once they're released into the wild.

She says the pair are the first bears at the shelter to get the collars as part of an agreement with the Environment Ministry, which wants to track how they fare in the wild.

Mother killed but cubs saved

The bear cubs' mother was killed by a conservation officer after it repeatedly raided a freezer full of meat and salmon outside a Port Hardy home.

But conservation officer Bryce Casavant refused to kill the two cubs despite orders from superiors, and took them to a veterinary hospital instead, believing they could be rehabilitated.

The cubs were later transferred to a recovery centre run by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, also on Vancouver Island.

Casavant was later suspended for refusing to kill the cubs and that suspension sparked outrage on social media, especially after the story was retweeted by British comedian Ricky Gervais.

Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition calling for the conservation officer to be reinstated, but despite the outcry he was eventually transferred out of the Conservation Officer Service.