The Den Cam paper can be seen in its entirety by clicking on the highlighted title in this link: Lynn L. Rogers, Linda McColley, Janet Dalton, Jim Stroner, Douglas Hajicek, Adam Partin and Gordon M. Burghardt. Behavior in Free-Living American Black Bear Dens: Parturition, Maternal Care, and Cub Behavior. Animals 2020, 10, 1123; doi:10,3390/ani10071123.
You can also find it by going to www.bearstudy.org, hovering over Publications (in the menu bar along the top), then clicking on Published Papers in the drop down window that appears. As the newest paper on the list, it’s at the top (No. 139).
The 13-page paper is a summary of the discoveries that Lily Fans witnessed and helped compile during 2010-2013 in the dens of Lily and Jewel. The paper lists many topics that had never before been reported. Behaviors in dens has long been the least observed aspect of black bear life.
So little was known when we started that many believed black bear mothers slept through the birthing process and woke up in spring surprised they had cubs. When a famous wildlife expert stated that old belief on the David Letterman Show in February 2010, Lily Fans in 132 countries knew better after seeing Lily give birth to Hope and respond to her cries and needs with tender loving care.
Another old belief was that bears in dens do not urinate or defecate—a belief based on captive studies. Lily Fans saw Lily and Jewel back out the entrances of their dens or back into corners away from their nest to urinate and defecate. That is because wild mothers ingest the urine and feces of their cubs in addition to snow and icicles; and they accumulate dead cells from the digestive tract, all of which produce waste.
After having the paper rejected by the journal Ursus, I wanted to increase the sample size by studying more bears in more dens. I attempted to study Juliet and her cubs in 2014, and I applied for den cam permits in 2015 and 2019. However, in all cases, research limitations offered by the DNR hampered or would have hampered the studies in unacceptable ways. Seeing that it was unlikely we’d be able to expand the study, we submitted the paper for publication in ‘Animals’ and had it quickly accepted.
More is coming. One of the reasons we submitted this paper when we did is that world animal play expert Dr. Gordon Burghardt wants to cite this paper as background when he publishes a paper on the development of play in black bear cubs. Over the years, he and his graduate student have been analyzing videos of Lily and Jewel’s cubs in the dens that we all watched. I look forward to seeing what he develops.
In addition, there is a huge amount of data from which we would like to develop a paper on how mothers and cubs allocate their time in dens. That will be a major undertaking that I might put off while writing the book, although help from the right people and their graduate students could make that paper possible sooner.
Meanwhile, data collection on various topics continues to the extent possible.
Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center
Wildlife Research Institute
145 West Conan Street
Ely, Minnesota 55731 USA