Holly, Honey, Cold – UPDATE January 2, 2014

Smoke from Ely chimneysSmoke from Ely chimneysDriving to work this morning, it was minus 34F in Ely, minus 38F a half mile outside town, and minus 40F 2.5 miles outside town.  The chimney smoke was beautiful all over Ely at dawn.

We gave more straw to the bears this winter than ever before, and they needed it.  Holly continues to burrow into her deep straw just like Honey does.  The picture of Honey coming up for air was taken through the window—thus the reflections.

HoneyHoneyHolly liked her blanket enough to play with it lying on her back with all her paws manipulating the blanket.  She brought it up next to her burrow and went to sleep.  She hasn’t yet figured out how to cover herself with it.

Bears aren’t the only ones who know enough to burrow away from the cold.  Red squirrels spend a lot of time under the snow in this weather.

Red squirrel in snowRed squirrel in snowTed and Lucky continue to slumber away without a care and without a response to visiting humans.

Holly hasn’t completely settled down after her trip.  Yesterday, between 11 and noon, Judy Thon went out and started a vehicle.  Holly got up and stood by the entrance to her den looking out.  Listening.  Judy started another vehicle a few hours later.  Same response from Holly.

Traffic might be a new sound to Holly.  Highway traffic sounds on busy Highway 169 caught her attention from the time she arrived.  When Lynn offered her grapes, she often had to focus her eyes and ears in the direction of the traffic before proceeding with the grapes.  Soon, she’ll learn that traffic sounds are not worth listening to.  Wild bears that live near traffic know that and even den near the Highway.  A couple years ago, Jo denned 81 yards from the highway, and a year ago Juliet denned 161 yards from it.  Holly’s den is 183 yards from it.

Thank you for the extra help you are giving toward the Hope Learning Center the last few days.  We learned that the final bill for the building from Kraus-Anderson will be $1,228,569 plus odds and ends yet to be installed (3 electrical outlets and a hood and bag for the pull-down metal fire door into the new addition.  There will also be a bill from another company for data wiring to make the present better and the future possible.  Of the budgeted $1,300,000, that will leave around $50,000 for exhibits, etc.

Connecticut Warbler - undatedConnecticut Warbler - undatedWe’re hoping that a good amount of taxidermy will be donated.  We’re looking for taxidermy of as many of the local mammals and birds as people can donate.  Local mammals in addition to the moose, wolf, woodland caribou (for historical purposes), and mountain lion that we already have, include white-tailed deer, lynx, bobcat, red fox (color phases), gray fox, coyote, pine marten, fisher, mink, river otter, striped skunk, long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel, least weasel, raccoon, porcupine, beaver, muskrat, snowshoe hare, gray squirrel, red squirrel, woodchuck, Franklin’s ground squirrel, northern flying squirrel, eastern chipmunk, least chipmunk, masked shrew, arctic shrew, pigmy shrew, short-tailed shrew, water shrew, star-nose mole, little brown bat, Keen’s myotis, big brown bat, silver-haired bat, red bat, hoary bat, southern red-backed vole, heather vole, meadow vole, yellow-nosed rock vole, southern bog lemming, meadow jumping mouse, and woodland jumping mouse (total 49 species of mammals).

Bird species are too numerous to list, even if we restricted the list to nesting species.  The Superior National Forest here has more nesting bird species (155) than any other national park or national forest but we want to get a good representation; especially the hawks, loon, owls, and the unique species people come here to add to their life lists (spruce grouse, gray jay, Connecticut warbler, etc.). 

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.