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Jewel and a Berry Bonanza? - UPDATE June 10, 2022

Charlie Brown

The news of the day was Jewel showing up near the community with three cubs. Many of you remember Jewel having her first litter back in 2012. Now Jewel is with her sixth litter—her sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth cubs.

Today, it was nice to see Charlie Brown (above) still looking pretty as he continues to shed his brown fur and grows in new dark fur.

Donna was spotted a couple days ago with her yearlings Eva and Elvis.

Bear w/ willow seeds on furBear w/ willow seedsStill waiting for sightings of Lily, One-eyed Jack, Ursula, and many others. In fact, many people are wondering where the bears went? After two years of drought and berry crop failure and seeing an unusual number of bears in 2020 and 2021, this year things seem back to normal. Young, highly digestible greens are still available in this year of a late spring.

What I believe will be astounding is the berry crop this year. It might be almost like the crop of 1996 that followed a year of crop failure and the coldest Minnesota winter on record with temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit less than 15 miles from here. What followed was production of pollen, fluffy windblown aspen and willow seeds, and berries like I’d never seen. I’m seeing signs now of what I saw then—yellow pollen covering bodies of water and bears with windblown aspen and willow seeds stuck to their fur. Similar to that high production of pollen and seed, berry bushes are covered with blossoms of which a higher percentage than usual are healthy. Like in 1996, this budding bonanza follows a year of berry crop failure—in fact two years of drought and few berries.

Juneberries developingJuneberries developing Juneberry blossomsJuneberry blossoms
Chokecherry blossomsChokecherry blossoms Lowbush blueberries formingLowbush blueberries forming Willow catkinsWillow catkins

Today, I was happy to see lowbush blueberry blossoms becoming tiny blueberries whose fate will now depend on adequate rain. Serviceberries, a.k.a. Juneberries, are living up to their name in this late spring and will still probably ripen in June. Some have developing berries, and some still have blossoms. The good greens in the woods make me less worried when favorite bears are late to show up, and the healthy looking blossoms and developing berries make me optimistic that few bears will get in trouble looking for food where they are not welcome.

Still looking forward to hearing about Lily appearing somewhere with a good litter of cubs that she was due to have. Her previous litter was four in 2019 before she skipped a year to likely have cubs this year.

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

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