A Story – UPDATE December 6, 2012
A Lily Fan asked about the picture of Donna Rogers holding up the head of a giant black bear. The picture brought back good memories for Lynn. The picture is from 30 years ago in 1982 when Lynn and Donna were only 3 years into their marriage. Lynn was just beginning to work more closely with bears.
The story begins at the Babbitt Dump about 10 miles south of Ely. Lynn was doing something a little different—taking night photos of bears visiting the dump. At dusk, he laid a birch log across a main trail into the dump and lay down on the trail 8 or 9 feet away to watch. As it got dark, his eyes became accustomed enough to see a black paw come over the white log and he could snap a flash picture looking up at the bear. Lynn got one of his favorite pictures that night when a bear stopped and respectfully circumvented him to get to the dump.
A little later, another bear started over the log but must have heard Lynn move slightly to aim the camera. The bear stopped and moved off the trail. Lynn was silent. He had not yet seen the size of the bear. A few minutes later, the bear slowly and cautiously emerged from the bushes onto the trail maybe 5 feet from Lynn. Lynn could see the dark figure of the bear against the night sky, but instead of a normal sized bear, this bear was huge. Again, it sensed Lynn. The bear froze. Lynn froze too. Then the bear cautiously and slowly backed into the bushes, afraid to turn its back on Lynn. When the bear had backed fully into the bushes, it whirled around and crashed off through whatever was in its way.
A few weeks later on September 13, 1982, Lynn and Donna were part of a wolf capture operation at the dump. Somehow that night, the same huge bear ended up in a foot snare. Lynn tranquilized and weighed it (611 pounds)—the heaviest bear he captured in his 45 years of research to this day. Donna Rogers held up the big, handsome head for the picture. Lynn radio-collared the male and a few weeks later tracked it to its den. That’s when he began to learn that very fat bears are among the earliest bears to den, denning nearly as early as pregnant females.
On March 19, 1983, Lynn quietly approached the den, which was no more than a nest next to some upturned roots. He peered over the roots, and tranquilized the bear. The bear woke up upon being stuck, looked at Lynn and walked off. Lynn tracked the bear to where the tranquilizers took place. There they took blood samples, measurements, a weight (447 pounds), and removed the radio-collar. Donna was along on that trip, too. Good memories of the excitement of learning.
At the Bear Center, Ted would dwarf that big bear. Like everyone else, we love his gentle nature. The staff wanted to do something special for Ted, Honey, and Lucky. The bears had baby blankets to take into their dens these past years. They wondered if these big bears would like queen-sized blankets instead. A Lily Fan present during the discussion went out and purchased big soft blankets for each. The bears did want them. Each bear immediately came out and made the blankets part of their dens. The photos show Office Manager Heidi Schiltz photographing Ted sleeping on his totally obscured blanket and Honey with her blanket next to her head. We know bears don’t really need blankets to make it through the winter, but if these three bears want blankets, the staff and a Lily Fan wanted them to have blankets.
We were delighted to see this story about the decline in the cruel practice of forcing sloth bears to dance in India - http://www.news.com.au/news/indias-dancing-bears-retire-in-animal-rights-victory/story-fnejlrpu-1226528639056. A Lily Fan was in tears when she read it. She has been donating to this cause for 20 years. Lily Fans care.
We were also happy to see that our friend Mike McIntosh of the Bear With Us rehab facility in Ontario is in first place in a race for funds to support his operation. He needs votes to stay in first place. These links show how to vote http://www.facebook.com/Understanding.Bears/app_86018144944 and how to see the standings https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/search/list/level:semifinalist/sortby:most-votes/cost:2
Thank you for all you do.
—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center