Bears! - UPDATE August 3, 2015

Pincherry scatPincherry scatA major feeder is on vacation in the community. So what happens? The bears go to other community feeders including WRI. We got our first visit from Donna’s 12-year-old daughter Colleen we can remember. Another bear from the feeder, Donna and her 4 cubs paid a long visit to another feeder.

The other usual bears paid their visits to their respective community feeders.

I don’t know how I wrote Ursula where I should have said Braveheart last night as the mother of Geneva. The two males in the litter are now Stratton and Porter at the request of the Indiana Bear Course participant—the home state of Gene Stratton Porter.

A Minneapolis Star Tribune article on Cecil the Lion included some thoughts on our study bears at Thoughts on a lion and a faraway news story, while afloat. Author Dennis Anderson wondered how it would play out if an African hunter had shot one of our collared bears. Our thinking is that we have a Cecil the Lion Story right here in our study orchestrated by our own DNR—the killing of June. The story began with two DNR employees (one retired) working with hunters to bait June and Aster out of the protected Bear Head Lake State Park. When I wrote in an update that I was going to see what was luring June and Aster to a particular spot, I quickly got a visit from the sheriff with a letter saying to stay off that property. Our attorney quickly wrote back asking the DNR employees if they were trying to shoot radio-collared bears. The baiting there stopped, but baiting brgan at a house where June had paid one visit earlier that year. The homeowner has 20 bird feeders. As DNR Conservation Officer Dan Starr testified under oath, the landowner somehow knew he could legally bait June into his yard and have her legally shot there by a hunter within 500 feet of occupied dwellings (his own and his neighbors). When the landowner phoned the DNR to let them know the deed had been done, Starr advised him to drive the collar to a different location before removing the batteries and Starr dispatched a nearby Conservation Officer to park by the road leading to the property where June was killed so he could intervene if we somehow became aware of the killing and drove there to investigate. The next morning, with no signal from June, Sue and I listened for her signal from many locations around the area. Early afternoon, Sue drove to Tower, MN, and heard the signal coming from the DNR Headquarters there. We called CO Starr and asked him what happened. He admitted on the stand that he lied when he denied all knowledge and tried to make us think June had maybe just dropped her collar. The DNR was complicit in killing the most valuable study black bear ever—a bear that had never gone up to anyone for food uninvited, had never gone into the state park campground that her territory nearly encircled, and was about as gentle as a bear could be. She had grown up harmlessly playing with little girls at one of the community feeding stations and was not the least defensive around people. Why would the DNR be complicit in baiting her out of a protected area to have her killed? Why is the DNR trying to prohibit Den Cams that the panel of appellate judges said we could have? Why does the governor speak out against the killing of Cecil the Lion and remain silent over his own DNR going to such lengths to kill June, end our study, and prohibit Den Cams?

On another note, there is a good crop of pincherries. A scat, probably from Lily, was full of them today.

Thank you for all you do.

Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center