More Faith – Update October 21, 2012
When we saw Faith yesterday, we noticed her collar was snug, but we didn’t have a tool with us to loosen it. We returned today with the needed nut-driver. Her signal was in the direction of her den, so we confidently walked in to her den. She wasn’t there. There was a fresh bear track in dirt outside the den—obviously made after the mornings rain. We followed her telemetry signal.
Despite many “It’s me bears” as we homed in on her signal, she remained out of sight. She was very wary as is also typical this time of year. Finally, she believed who we were and held up, looking ready to retreat at any fast motion. A couple times, she took steps away and then looked back and stayed. We stopped and called. We were glad to see her initial doubt and timidness. We were glad to see her recognize us and overcome her fear. Finally, she came and was the calm, tolerant bear we know.
When we were tugging and twisting her radio-collar to loosen it a notch for hibernation, she was not concerned. When we tightened the screw, we caught some hair which we then pulled free. Pulling her hair was unusual and undoubtedly hurt a little. She pawed and moved away to avoid the tugging, but she was gentle. There was no expression of anxiety. She did not make any quick movements with her head as if to bite. She did not raise her paw to slap. Through it all, her heart rate was an undisturbed 61 beats per minute. Within each minute of recording, the heart rate was irregular as is typical this time of year. Periods with as many as 2 beats a second were followed by slower rates to total 61 per minute. When we were finished we put a half dozen nuts on the forest floor to occupy her as we gathered our equipment to leave. As we walked away, we saw her moving off in the direction from which she had come.
When we are with Faith, we think of Hope and believe her legacy lives on in this special little bear. Faith and Hope played together like we have not seen in other siblings. Hope was big enough to dominate Faith at Lily’s nipples and in play. Faith became used to being knocked away from nipples and playing roughly with a much bigger sibling. She didn’t respond hostilely to touch, roughness, and undoubtedly pain at times. She had no qualms about initiating play with larger males this past summer, just as she did with Hope.
Faith still has not raked any bedding into the den. In spring, we’ll see if she raked in bedding or if she was content to sleep on the soft sandy soil. Alternatively, she may not remain at this den. It is chronically damp and she has to squeeze into or out of the tight entrance. Could the fact that she hasn’t raked bedding into it be because she isn’t satisfied with it? We’ll monitor her telemetry signals from afar to see if she stays or moves.
Just as the Hope Learning Center shows our hope for bears and bear education, Faith’s name reflects our faith in the future as construction of the Hope Learning Center begins tomorrow.
Thank you for all you do.
—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center