A call came in that a car had hit two cubs in the study area. The only mother with cubs, two cubs, seen in the area so far this year was Sallyann just a half mile from that spot. Sallyann’s cubs are the 8th generation in Shadow’s Clan. I hurried there and saw one of the cubs being protected from traffic by our stellar local conservation officer. I was surprised to see the cub so calm with him, but the cub was in danger.Several times it went to the middle of the highway and lay down curled up. The CO would then go herd the cub in the direction the mother had left with the other cub. But the cub wanted to go the other direction—away from the mother’s direction. Traffic was being held up. The CO was glad to see me there. I said maybe I should pick up the cub and carry it down a driveway in the direction the mother went. We didn’t see any other way to get them together. The cub was lying curled up in the middle of the highway. I gently picked her up and found myself holding a screaming, fighting cub and learning how sharp a 4-month-old cub’s claws and teeth are. We hurried down the driveway until I was out of breath The CO said it was a good place to leave the cub. I set her down but she was not done fighting for her life. She ran up my pant leg to bite me some more. Then, someone else arrived and she went after him. She also went after the CO. We all backed away. She calmed down and moved to a nearby white pine and looked around as if for mom. I had hoped the screaming would bring the mother running, but it didn’t. We left.
I went to the house where Sallyann had been seen yesterday. The people were wondering why they hadn’t seen her yet today. We dabbed my hand with alcohol and covered it to stop the bleeding. I went to the WRI. A few hours later, they called to say Sallyann was there with both cubs intact. But no one saw the mother of the cubs that had been hit well enough to describe her. Was it really Sallyann? We’re waiting to see if another lactating female comes in with one, two, or no cubs. I hope they are all okay.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. I learned a little about how angry and courageous cubs can get. I’d never seen that before. I hope the mother hears the cub calling for her. I hope it truly is Sallyann and that the cubs are okay although undoubtedly bruised.
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