I should have recognized him immediately, but it had been too many years and too much change.The Burt I had known since I met him in his natal den along with his sibling Ursula in 2005 is now turning white beyond his years. He is only 15 but has nearly the white of his 33-year-old mother Shadow. I haven’t looked closely enough at Shadow to notice her eyelashes, but Burt’s white eyelashes are the first thing I noticed and also in the increasing number of bears that are showing the white faces of age.
I don’t know if Burt actually recognized me or just felt at home in a spot he had visited for years. It was great to see him and feel his calm and gentle trust. I hope he keeps coming so Black Bear Field Course Participants can meet him. I hope I can get my picture taken with him as a memory of our history. I relate to his aging body and white hair. At 15, he has more white than 23-year-old Ted, showing how this trait can vary among individuals. He also looks older than his second cousin, Pete (son of June), who is the same age.
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