Lily, Shadow, Dobie - UPDATE July 19, 2018

A call came. Lily was spotted heading east. I called her likely destination and headed over. LilyLilyIt was near dark although the high ISO camera lightens the scene to make a good picture. I kneeled down beside her, noticing that she is in good shape. I checked her chest to see the white spot in its proper position. I already knew it was her from her face and behavior. She completely ignores me. Then she swung her head toward me and I offered her favorite treat. A brief sniff and her head continued by. She was sniffing and looking. Something had alerted her. I suspected it was Shadow, her grandmother. Whatever it was, Lily was up and leaving and about to give me the most exercise of the last month. She headed into the woods and up and down steep, rocky slopes. A quarter mile later, she went through downed trees from the recent storm and easily moved through a tangle that made me lose sight of her. I hadn’t walked with her like that for years, but it was just like old times. All the way, she ignored me to do what she had to do, her ears sweeping the area ahead and sometimes back toward the area she was leaving. I was close enough behind that I was easily identified.

ShadowShadowOn my way back to the WRI, the landowner called and said Shadow was there. It made sense that Lily left and ignored food as she concentrated on safety. Their lives are ruled by fear and food in that order most of the time. I headed back. Shadow was so engaged in sniffing the ground where Lily had just been that even this super wary bear did not bother to look up in this safe area for more than a glance as I lay down to be as nonthreatening as possible. When she stopped sniffing the ground, she took a quick look at me (click) with her famous white face to reassure herself and then walked to the feeding spot. With the shot in the camera, I headed to the WRI to write the update.

I am so glad that 11-year-old Lily and 31-year-old Shadow are still alive. Bears that use the feeding areas differ from other local bears in that they reproduce earlier in life, have higher cub survival, have fewer bear-human conflicts, and longer lives.

2-year-old Dobie is an exception. I fear he is gone. It’s been over four days since he walked away on Sunday morning. With no food or water, he is undoubtedly in organ failure by now if not gone. Someday, I might be able to tell the whole story, but I can say that I feel good that all involved did everything possible for this skittish bear. Once we tried to help him, he no longer trusted us. He walked away for good. Without a radio-collar on him, there was no way to track him. We’ve been on the lookout for him day and night ever since, but no go. I believe his problem was due to a natural cause—a stick or bone caught between his upper molars as happens with dogs and wolves from time to time.

On a happier note, the LilyPad Picnic begins tomorrow. There is a dinner scheduled for 5 winners at the WRI, and there is a bonfire at the Bear Center in the evening. I look forward to seeing all who come. These kindred spirits who care for bears are so special.

One thing that some of us might do at the Bear Center is walk the Nature Trail. The Nature Trail was videoed a bit in this 5:37-minute sample https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6dlW-3mKG0.

Thank you for all you do.

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

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