Learning and Protection

Lily_20110110_130804Learning

We are learning a little more every day.  We’re surprised by how much Hope suckles. We’re all learning.  Lily and Hope’s activity is also surprising.  Actually, not too surprising on Lily’s part.  We saw that last year as she approached giving birth.  But Hope is not pregnant.  Her venturing outside the den today when we expected her to be a sleepy hibernator this winter is surprising.  Is it because Lily is so active?

Lily_Hope_20110110_131235When Jason and Lynn were driving to the den, Sue was back at the Research Center watching Lily and Hope on the computer and both bears were outside the den—Hope for the first time—on this mild 12F day.  Shortly after Lynn and Jason arrived at the WLAH shed, Lily and Hope went into their den.  Lily came out when Jason and Lynn arrived at the den. They re-aligned the camera, had their attempts to photograph Lily’s swollen vulva rebuffed, and left.  Shortly after they left, Hope emerged and nosed around while Lily began ripping and tearing at the entrance. Hope soon re-entered the den, but Lily continued her remodeling project.  Is she tired of squeezing in and out?  Does she want the entrance bigger?  Next visit, we’ll check out her work.

Here are links to videos Linda Gibson captured of the bears activities before, during, and after Lynn and Jason’s visit.  Get comfy because each video is 20 minutes.

http://www.facebook.com/v/183670834985647

http://www.facebook.com/v/183674371651960

http://www.facebook.com/v/183676974985033

Although we haven’t seen it, many viewers have commented that Lily sometimes blows.  Blowing is a sign of agitation.  Could Lily be getting annoyed with Hope as birth approaches?  We’re all learning together.

how_many_cubsThe big question now is “How many cubs will Lily have?”  We’re not the only ones asking that as can be seen on Penni Grimm-Storts’ pre-school classroom bulletin board.

We wish the Ted and Lucky Den Cam was streaming online for comparison.  So far, it broadcasts only to a big screen TV in the exhibit area at the North American Bear Center.  What a difference in behavior.  Den-watchers would record much less activity by these two, compared with Lily and Hope.  Ted and Lucky are lying a few feet apart sleeping away the days and nights like good little hibernators.  They have not a care about impending cubs and making the den just right.  In their wakeful moments, Ted and Lucky steal bedding from each other occasionally but do little else.  While sleeping, they are each breathing roughly twice a minute with some intervals as long as 50 seconds.  Once we get Lily and Hope’s cameras right, maybe we can see how many times a minute they are breathing.

Protection

We got a call today from Dennis Udovich, President of the Minnesota Bear Guides Association saying the Guides Association has switched their stance and are in favor of protection of radio-collared bears.  This is very good news.  They represent many hunters.  Having their support eases the jitters of officials who want everyone to be on the same page.  The Guides have one major concern.  They don’t want to make criminals out of hunters who make honest mistakes.  They want radio-collared bears to be obvious.  To them, that means orange collars and bright-colored ear-tags.

We don’t ear-tag.  Ear-tagging requires drugging and would destroy trust.  We don’t want the research bears running away from us worried that we are going to stick them with needles.  We want to re-phrase bright-colored ear-tags to “durable, obvious markers” or “durable, bright-colored ribbons.”  The Guides are afraid the ribbons would come off.  We say they are no more likely to come off than an ear-tag, which often get torn off in fights.  We tie on long, durable, bright-colored ribbons shortly before hunting season and have not had problems of them coming off.  Even mothers with cubs keep their ribbons.

It is great that the guides are calling for protection.  We just have to iron out the details.  Progress is being made.  The big question about protection is what to do next.   We’ll know that shortly.  Team Protect is standing by.

Now as we close, Lily is sleeping too close to the camera even though we moved it back from its previous position.  At least she hasn’t re-built the wall.

Thank you for all you do.

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

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