A Mundane Week With Few Updates – UPDATE November 26, 2012
Construction continued today. Ted, Honey, and Lucky were restful in their dens. Lynn and Sue worked mostly on administrative items. Tomorrow, Lynn goes in for an evaluation of his shoulder, and Sue gets her vehicle fixed. All mundane.
Research activity is on hold at the moment. We’ve located all dens that we can and den cams are not yet installed. We say ‘that we can’ because Braveheart is the one holdout. We found her in a den on Sept 25 and took off her ribbons and GPS unit. However, she left the den and did not return. Even though we’ve known her since she was a tiny cub, and even though she lets us adjust her collar and change GPS batteries, she is likely to abandon any den we find her in. Not immediately. Nope. She doesn’t run away as we approach. She just moves to another den after we leave.
It took us a while to figure this pattern of Braveheart’s out. It’s not unusual for bears to change dens in the fall before finally settling in, so at first we didn’t think much of her moves. But over the years it has become obvious it’s her pattern. If her den is found, she moves on. Her behavior is unique among the research bears.
Two years ago, we found Braveheart in a rock den. She left. We located her in a nice root mound den 2 miles away. We removed her big collar and gave her a smaller one. She then moved back to the original rock den.
Last year, while we were locating Braveheart to change her GPS batteries, we unexpectedly found her and her cubs at a root mound den—much earlier than usual. We changed her GPS batteries to continue to monitor her. As soon as we disappeared, she left the den and didn’t return. Late that fall, we located her in another root mound den just before dark one evening. She and her big cubs were tucked in with bedding nearly blocking the opening. We took a GPS reading and snapped a picture to document den location and type, and then quickly left. We thought she was in for the winter. But no. She moved. As well as she knows us; we could never put a den cam in Braveheart’s den.
Lynn decided there would be no updates Thursday, Friday, and Saturday while he and Donna spend time together out of town. However, Sue thinks she just might be able to dig up a few more ‘walks with June’ to fill in the gap.
Winter is here. Snow that’s on the ground (4-6 inches) at this time of year typically doesn’t melt until spring.
Thank you for all you do.
—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center