Ted is Special – UPDATE March 29, 2013

Mother and daughterMother and daughterLily, with water soaking deeper into her now matted fur, looked intently towards the entrance of her den today—as if assessing conditions outside.  The entrance is off to the right in the image we see from the Den Cam.  We haven’t seen her look in that direction before.  Lily looks toward the entranceLily looks toward the entranceWould she be out if it weren’t for the snow?  It was March 30th that she left with Hope in 2010; March 31 when she left the den with Hope, Jason, and Faith in 2011; and March 15 when she left the den with Faith during the unusually early spring of 2012. 

At last, Lily messes with the cameraAt last, Lily messes with the cameraFor the first time this year, Lily messed with the Den Cam.  She pawed, sniffed, and licked it.  At the moment we have no plans to clean the lens.  Snowmelt at Lily's denThe pictures at right show how melting has progressed on Lily’s den the last 3 days.

Video of Lily and cubs; Part I http://youtu.be/Gu2SXLX4Er8, Part II http://youtu.be/MWx74VDWuXg, Part III http://youtu.be/KP1HY0RnJaQ and Part IV http://youtu.be/O0tnoYI3Lko.

Lily artwork on the camera lensLily's artwork on the camera lensWhen we installed the PTZ camera outside Jewel’s den Sunday, we removed the trail cam we had left up all winter.  With no trail cam and the PTZ install not yet complete, we didn’t get to see what Jewel and family did during their outing today with temperatures over 50F.  We suspect we’ll find some feces on our next den check.  They remain dry in their deep dug dusty den.

Honey comes for foodHoney comes for foodLucky and Honey took it upon themselves to roam today.  Honey came down to the building and asked for food (sat there looking hungry) and was given a head of romaine lettuce.  Staff made sure the scale is ready for her next visit.  Lucky pleads with HoneyLucky pleads with HoneyWhen Honey returned to her den area, Lucky paid her a visit.  The picture by Judy McClure looks like Lucky is saying he wants to be by her and she is saying no thank you.  Honey could be popular if she wanted to be.

Ted surveys his good workTed surveys his good workTed has spread his straw bale and created a terrace to rest in the sun outside his den.  Ted is a special bear as everyone could see in the pictures a couple updates ago at http://tinyurl.com/bv4e9d5.  He was born in captivity and raised with love, and that’s what he expects from people.  He wants to greet people like he used to greet Lucky when Lucky was younger.

Snuggled cubsSnuggled cubsBut we don’t greet wild bears like that.  They’d wonder what were up to and would move away or react defensively, depending upon the bear.  They trust us in routine situations, but they have no bond of affection with people like Ted does.  Their lives are plenty full without responding affectionately to humans who didn’t raise them.

Eli, Ellie, and LilyEli, Ellie, and LilyThe research bears tolerate a lot while we are feeding them—collar changes, battery changes, heart rates, checking for injuries, etc.  They’re not like dogs that don’t want to be bothered when they’re eating.  Part of the routine for getting prime quality nuts is being touched, radio-collared, tugged, and even having hair samples jerked from their skin.

Eli peers over EllieEli peers over EllieThe wild bears don’t try to play with us.  When they’re with us, they play with other bears or are working for food.  Sometimes that food is the nuts in our hands.  When the nuts are gone, they’re off to do other work like tearing open logs or finding berries.  It’s hard to keep a bear from being a bear.  They don’t hang around just to be near us.  They don’t seek people out for companionship.

Eli inspects the cameraEli inspects the cameraNoliana’s desire to play with us is part of what tipped us off that she was not part of the clan we study.  When we saw a play-face and open mouth, we knew someone had raised her and that she had bonded with humans.  To be sure she was really trying to play, Lynn put his hand in her mouth when she had that look, and she made typical, gentle play movements.  Those who have watched the Pond Cam through the years know how that is.  When Lucky was younger, he and Ted played wildly but gently, biting at each other quietly and without injury.

Lily dries off a cubLily dries off EllieEye contact is also something we avoid close-up unless we know the bear accepts it.  For Ted, eye contact is expected.  With wild bears, it varies.  Some become comfortable enough.  Others get defensive if a person stares within arm’s length.  Each bear has its own quirks and personality.

Lily licks drops of water off cubLily licks drops of water off EliThe Bear Center staff got a glowing, outstanding report on organization from the auditor who inspects us each year.  The staff was rightfully proud, and we are proud of them.  With the inventory counts completed and the inspection over, the web store is open again.

Thank you for all you do.

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

All photos taken today unless otherwise noted.

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