Mothers With Cubs and Yearlings - UPDATE May 26, 2018

Mothers with cubs and yearlings are making appearances in the community now. Mothers with cubs provide data on reproduction, and mothers with yearlings provide data on survival. Minnie and cub by Jim StronerMinnie and cub by Jim StronerOne of the objectives of the study here in this community that has fed bears for decades is to learn how the bears are affected by the food.

Comparing data with an earlier study of non-fed bears, the fed bears in this community are generally similar to non-fed bears in most aspects of their lives except that the bears in and around this community have earlier reproduction, higher cub survival, fewer bear/human conflicts, and longer lives.

We’re especially waiting to see if 31-year-old Shadow has any cubs this year.

Survival of non-fed cubs to one year of age in an earlier study was 88% if natural food was abundant in the year of conception and the year of giving birth. Survival dropped to 75% if food was scarce in either one of those years. If food was scarce in both those years, cub survival dropped to 59% and many females did not give birth following a year of scarce food. In Shadow’s clan, cub survival was 94% unless the mother was shot. Causes of death of cubs included unknown causes (disappeared), vehicles, hunters (illegal), parasites, predation, and another bear.

So far this year, 9-year-old Star showed up with all 3 yearlings, 18-year-old Donna has all three of hers. Lily and Braveheart have 2 of their 3 yearlings. We don’t know what happened to the third cub. Overall survival in that small sample was 83%.

Thank you for all you do.

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