Donna Bear, Jewel and Cubs - UPDATE August 26, 2018

A call came that Donna, Jewel, and her cubs were at a feeding station. We piled in the van and made haste. Donna by R.VickersDonna by R.VickersRandi Vickers snapped a picture of Donna looking well on her way to having another good litter. She had litters of 4 when she was 13 and 15 and a litter of 3 when she was 17. Is she fat enough to maintain a litter of 4 for this January when she turns 19. If she does, Donna will tie 31-year-old Shadow’s total of 26 cubs when Donna is only 19. These supplementally fed bears that tend to live longer than other bears just go on producing cubs at a time when Minnesota is trying to increase its bear population. Pregnant females are the first to den and can be protected to an extent by starting the bear hunting season at a later date. Pregnant females tend to den in September. The earliest date we’ve found is August 22 for pregnant Shadow in 2006. Jewel and cubJewel and cubThe season now starts on September 1. It would help the population increase and make it safer for tourists if the season opened at least after the Labor Day Weekend. Most people hiking in the woods on that busy holiday weekend have no idea that camouflaged hunters with high powered rifles are perched in trees ready to shoot bears. Leaves are still on the trees. People are not wearing blaze orange, and if they were they would not be visible through the leaves. Leaves will not stop bullets. There is no biological reason for the bear hunting season to start that early. Hunters are the DNR’s “primary clients” according to an announcement by the DNR’s Wildlife Chief on April 23, 2012. Starting the season after the holiday weekend when kids are back in school makes it safer for tourists, relieves worry for tourists who want to hike in our forests in this beautiful time of year, and would help the bear population bounce back as the DNR is trying to do.Jewe'ls cub callingJewe'ls cub calling

Two of Jewel’s cubs were on the ground and her third was up a tree. I had brought the wrong camera—too long of a lens. I caught a picture wide enough to show her with one cub. Then she came closer and all I could get was part of her face in the picture. JewelJewelBut that picture clearly shows the bump on her muzzle that readily identifies her. Jewel then was off into to the forest with two of the cubs. The cub in the tree hollered for her to wait up (mouth open wide) and quickly descended to follow. The cub headed for the last place she had seen her family and followed their scent trail from there.

On to the next adventure. A wonderful day.

Thank you for all you do.

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