We caught sight of Lily’s face today for the first time since the cubs were born. She was rearranging bedding, but unfortunately didn’t choose to rake any from the wall she erected shortly before she gave birth. But it was good to see her—even if only briefly.
Today found us deep in thought and writing madly. Bad news is the computer used for video editing is down until at least Monday—so no videos. Another walk with June from 2004 is posted below.
Thank you for all you do.
—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center
Beautiful clear northern Minnesota day with morning temperatures in the 40s and rising to the low 70s during the day. I located June in a cedar/black ash swamp across from the boat landing on Trygg Road at 8:11 AM. This was to be my first 24-hour bear walk. June was resting recumbent when I reached her. As I was packing up the antenna and receiver she got up, defecated, and came over to me. She waited while I readied my gear, then I fed her one cup of mixed nuts and 2 marshmallows – each of which contained 4 pieces of neon pink balloon. She swatted at me when the nuts were gone – first time she has done that in a while. She returned to a triangle of cedars where she rested and slept– getting up once to defecate. I thought she was getting ready to roam so I retrieved the scat from next to her bed. She briefly raised her head to look at me then went back to resting. She continued to rest and sleep for another hour then she got up to defecate again. She moved off and I thought she was beginning to roam so I scrambled to pick up the scat, but she only moved to a new bed a few feet away. She continued to sleep until 11:38 AM.
Just after she left her bed she did a very curious thing. She stood in a mossy place and alternately pressed her front paws into the moss – sort of like a cat ‘knitting’. She was urinating as she did this and then moved ahead and urinated in the spot she had been pressing. She sat rubbing her back on a group of saplings and then lunged at me. This seems to be a pattern – marking behavior followed by lunging at me. She soon moved on to the RR grade and began foraging on ant pupae among the stones. We worked our way west along the RR grade – generally on one side or the other but occasionally down the middle. She was walking directly on the RR grade as we passed the road to the first clear-cut. She was very alert in this area and as soon as we were past the road she ran into the woods on the north side.
- At one point she went off the RR grade to the north and dug mud out of a concrete culvert under the RR grade. She crawled entirely inside the culvert and out of sight.
- While walking next to the RR grade June straddled 2 balsams and one red pine.
- While walking on the RR grade June nibbled a couple goats beard seed heads.
On the north side of the RR grade she concentrated her foraging efforts on ant pupae and raspberries – spending much of the next half hour in the direct sun. On her way back to the RR grade she cut through a cool cedar swamp – feeding on a couple of cattails on the way. After more feeding on ant pupae along the RR grade she headed south to an old aspen clear-cut where she fed heavily on ant pupae, wild sarsaparilla, and bunchberry.
- The ant pupae feeding seemed to take precedence over the berry feeding.
- She passed lots of bunchberry without touching it – but fed heavily on it when she came to an area where it was very thick. She selected only the fattest and ripest and ate the entire bunch. This is in contrast to the wild sarsaparilla feeding where she nibbled off the ripest ones of each bunch and left the rest.
At one point she led me to a rock den. The den appeared to have been used. The ground around it was worn and a tree next to it was well-bitten. She disappeared into the den for a short while. I GPSed the den location.
Note: June’s sister Hazel had used this rock den in 2003. June & her yearlings used it during the winter of 2008 – moving there in late November 2007 after spending over a month bedded in an open swamp 1.6 miles away.
As we approached Murray Road I had trouble keeping up with her because she kept bolting. I would struggle to reconnect with her, and then she would bolt again. After one such bolt I found her in the stream on the south side of Murray Road where she fed on red-osier dogwood. She went back across Murray Road where we played cat and mouse games until I finally lost her. I took the opportunity to cache the scats I had been collecting. I radio-located her half an hour later about half a mile south. She was feeding on blueberries when I found her. I was with her for another hour and 49 minutes while she fed mostly on ant pupae – traveling considerable distances between productive logs. I noticed she was urine-marking this territory as she passed through.
I gave up collecting data at 9:00 PM because I could no longer see my PDA screen. I was having all I could do to keep up with her in the dark. I was losing her and locating her by the sound of her ripping apart logs. I finally lost her entirely at 10:00 PM and camped for the night.
- I believe June headed back to Peninsula Road to a feeding station after I quit for the night. A marker-laced scat was found the next morning on Trygg Road east of where I had met up with her and just west of Peninsula Road. It is highly likely that the scat was left the night of August 5th because at least 5 of the 8 markers were recovered from scats collected while I was with her.
A total of 16 scats were collected – including the one found on Trygg Road on August 6th. One scat was knowingly not collected and another was likely defecated during the half hour period when I was relocating her. Six of the eight markers were recovered.