Can we collar Hope?

Hope_showing_collarWe noted your concerns that we might not be able to radio-collar Hope again.   Of course, we want to radio-collar her. We want to learn all we can about how this cub—who had such a rough start in life—matures and finds her way in the bear world.  We have all been following her for nearly a year.  We all hate to think of her roaming the woods and us not knowing how she is doing after all we have been through with her. The problem is that she vehemently resisted being radio-collared.

Hope_showing_collar_2Lynn barely got the radio-collar on Hope last summer. She was the smallest bear he had ever collared and absolutely the hardest. Look closely at the pictures of her and you will see how tentatively that collar was on. It was held by only one nut which Lynn was able to tighten just slightly more than one turn. We wondered if it would stay on at all, but thankfully it did. She will come up to Sue, Lynn, or even Gordon and be calm.  She may even accept a hand on her back or may only mildly protest attempts to take her heart rate.  But try to put a radio-collar on her and she backs away and lets you know she wants no part of it.  Maybe she’ll change.  We certainly hope so.  We haven’t given up, but we don’t want to capture and drug her.  We don’t want to risk trapping injuries or drug deaths.  Hope and each of the other bears are too important.

We are hesitant to put radio-collars on growing young bears that don’t readily accept them. It’s much easier to get a collar on initially than it is to adjust the collar for growth later. Monkeying with a collar to remove the nuts, loosen the collar a notch or two, and replace the nuts takes much more tolerance on the bear’s part than the initial collaring.

Hope_showing_collar_3Problems compound if the bear moves out of the study area and establishes a territory elsewhere.  Getting to such a bear can be near impossible, and if the bear doesn’t cooperate once we reach it, a trip to the den in winter when snow makes it even harder is necessary.  Then we would have to drug the bear to remove the collar.

So we err on the side of caution with radio-collars.  If spunky little Hope mellows out about radio-collars, we’ll do it.  And we might have an extra year for her to mellow if Lily says it’s okay for Hope to remain with her and the new litter(?) through the next hibernation season.  All of this is on a wait-and-see basis.

One minute before 1 PM today, we were watching blurry bedding when Lily became active, pawed away the grass for a moment, and we heard a sound that set off a stir.  The phone rang.  Emails came.  It sounded like a cub.  Could it be?  As time passed without more cries, we knew it wasn’t a cub.  Linda Gibson captured the action See what you think.

If we were fooled, could mother bears be fooled by cub sound-alikes?  We remember a mother with cubs who heard a baby crying in a house.  She came and stood up to the picture window with her paws on the window looking in until the baby stopped crying.  Another mother heard a baby crying in a car and approached.  She was looking for her own cubs that were missing.  She soon realized that it was not her cubs, and she went back into the woods to continue her search.  One spring as birds were migrating north, a mother heard a hawk circling over making cub-like cries.  Whenever the hawk called, the mother hurried in that direction, grunting her concern for a lost cub.  Eventually, the hawk circled too far away for the mother to respond.

Lily fans spotted a couple more reviews of ‘The Bear Family and Me’ from the UK at and .

For the update of January 7, we were late posting the newspaper clipping that has the names of all of you who donated to the Ely Area Food Shelf for Christmas.  We were proud to see it.  It is there in the update.  In case you missed it you can view it at

Thank you so much for your impromptu fundraiser today.  You reduced the debt by $1,125 to $115,895.  We are ‘scenting’ the end of the tunnel—and relief.  Just yesterday, people were talking about the impossible debt we incurred during construction.  We remember a fiscally responsible board member resigning over it.  We knew the interest payments would slow our progress.  But we also knew we would eventually succeed with all the volunteer help that was emerging.  We had no idea that Lily fans would appear out of nowhere and rescue us like this.  When you began donating, we didn’t know what to do except continue to educate as far and wide as possible.  We could only say thank you and thank you again!

Thank you for all you do.

—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center