A day after the births and we’re still wondering how many cubs Lily had. We know there are at least two. That was confirmed with video footage captured at 10:57 PM last night—one cub nursing and one cub squawking. But at 11:29 PM Lily began the same insistent grunting that accompanied Hope’s birth last year and the births yesterday at 1:51 and 3:03 PM. Could Lily give birth to a third cub more than 8 hours after the second? Video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0pBfeIiVXM. Together, we have the eyes and ears to figure it out.
Today, less than 24 hours after the births, we amazingly caught our first good glimpse of the cubs. At 1:15 PM Lily lifted her head as she faced the camera. Two cubs were clearly visible. Hope surprised us by crowding in to join Lily in licking the cubs. Video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvu3b--1A48&feature=channel.
Hope is full of surprises. She’s cut way back on nursing and even looks concerned when the cubs scream. Could she have the beginnings of motherly instinct? Many worried that Hope might harm the cubs or crowd them out. We wondered if Lily might have ‘harsh words’ for Hope as Lily struggled to care for the cubs. But so far all seems to be going well with this mixed-age litter. Last night, Hope’s eyes shone in the back of the den as her head bobbed around when the cubs fussed. Today, she flopped on top of Lily as Lily hovered over the cubs. We wonder what Hope thinks of all of this.
We’re excited to think of all we can learn from this mixed-age litter!
Tonight is another cold night. The forecast is for minus 24F to minus 29F. If these tiny newborn cubs survive tonight, they will have proved they can survive the cold in this family. After tonight, temperatures will be mostly above zero for the coming week.
For more about how black bears care for newborn cubs, check http://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/mothers-raise-cubs/73-care-of-newborn-cubs.html.
The terrible whine we hear on sunny days is from the solar panels making more electricity than the charge controller can quietly handle. We can hear the whine coming from the controller when we’re in the shed, and we can all hear it on the den cam video feed captured on sunny days. The Den Cam Team is working on a solution.
Thank you for all you have been doing lately.
—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center