This picture taken on March 30, 1985 of 18-year-old Female number 359 and one of her cubs brought back memories of my feelings when finding mothers with new cubs. It also made me think about this year possibly setting a record for documenting the most clan mothers with cubs so far. Looking at the sheet for Shadow’s Clan we see 19 mothers who had cubs in 2020 or 2021 who should have cubs this year after the good food year of 2022. These are mothers who will turn 5 to 24 years old this month. We also noticed 41 females who will turn 3 or 4 and could produce their first litters this month. I’ve never seen numbers like this, but I guess it is to be expected as the clan grows and more and more females reach breeding age each year.
Included in these bears are the two oldest reproducing females in the clan—RC who will be 24 and Donna turning 23—racing to see who will produce the most cubs in their lifetimes. They have already beat the clan matriarch Shadow who produced 26 known, but possibly 28, cubs in her 28 years of reproduction. It is a close race with RC at 29 and Donna at 28 cubs. RC failed to have cubs last year, letting Donna pull within one cub. Both are due to have cubs this month, so we’ll probably learn this spring how many cubs they had. However, there’s another possibility. Shadow set a record by having cubs at 28. The old record was 26, and maybe not all bears can continue to reproduce that long. Could RC or Donna have reached their max. We’ll see who has cubs and who doesn’t this spring.
Today, Linda Ziobro, aka "Whimzy" let me know that the first in-person Lilypad Picnic since 2019 is returning this July 21-23, Friday through Sunday. That immediately follows the Monday through Thursday July 17-20 Black Bear Field Course, which has three openings. The course that follows the Picnic is full. As always, I’m looking forward to this picnic that Whimzy said will be a big one filled with fun, catching up with old friends, and making new friends. She told me we can stay up to date with the plans for it on the website which will soon have all the information, https://www.lilypadpicnic.com or the Facebook page, “Lilypad Picnic FAN PAGE - Sponsored by NBF” https://www.facebook.com/groups/394411520624410
I always look forward to the Black Bear Field Courses and can again look forward to both. Thank you Whimzy and team for letting us all get together again.
And thank you all for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center