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Youthful Bear Play - UPDATE June 4, 2021

YearlingsYearlings play

Dustin showed a behavior a couple days ago that I might have missed before with other bears. He stood back about 35 feet from a big white pine looking up at a scared yearling and made a sweet, high-pitched sound a little like Ted makes when he wants closeness. Or like males make when they approach a potential mate. After a few minutes, the scared yearling came lower but was tentative. 2 yearlings play2 yearlings playAny movements by Dustin made the yearling start back up. Eventually, though, they touched noses and soon began to play. I’d never seen that progression before.

After family break-up, yearlings from different litters get together—like kids going off to college and finding new friends. And they love to play.

I also saw that desire to play today with Chloe’s cubs. The brown one was up a white pine. The black one was on the ground, standing momentarily so I could almost fully see his very distinctive chest blaze that will let us readily identify him for as many years as we see him. Then the brown cub came most of the way down. The black one wanted to play and didn’t want to wait for him to reach the ground. He stood up and bit his big brother’s foot to pull him down. Shortly, they were into vigorous play.

Among the yearlings, three of them, one of them Dexter with his bright white blaze, had a three-way play session that was fun to watch. Play looks like fighting but is silent and the bites are gentle. Dexter, the largest of the yearlings, threw himself down on his back to play from the more subordinate position. The picture shows him with his mouth open biting gently. The third yearling participated only intermittently with the two yearlings biting Dexter at times.

Chloes black maleChloes black male Chloes brown cubChloes brown cub Chloe's cubs playChloe's cubs play

A good time was had by all. I’m still trying to get pictures of their chest blazes for better identification and to match up with pictures of them when they were still with their mothers.

More yearlings are going to show up because RC, Bow, and Jewel have all gone through family break-up, putting ten yearlings into the mix.

A nice thing I saw today is that the North American Bear Center made the Top 50 Science Destinations in America: https://www.popsci.com/science/summer-travel-vacation-ideas/#Minnesota

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center


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