Are Holly and Ted Setting Records? - UPDATE December 16, 2018

Iowa captured 7 minutes of video of Holly working on her left front foot pad.

Somebody told me that Pond Chatters saw Ted doing the same a day or two earlier. That made me look up what I wrote about it back in 1974. /stories/Publications/Shedding_of_ Foot_Pads_by_Black_Bears_During_Denning.pdf

My observations of it were all in March and April when I visited dens to change radio collars, get weights and measurements, take blood samples, document any cubs, and check for any injuries. That’s how I noticed the foot pads being shed. I tried to find out more about it in the scientific literature, but no one had reported it. Then, I found mention in the Native American historical literature, which is what I then cited as my references for the paper. I’ve never seen another scientific paper like that. I thought it was cool that what are referred to as aboriginal beliefs were scientifically accurate. From examining bears, I verified about everything they said, as it tells in the paper linked above.

The sentence that applies to what Iowa captured in the video is that “Pads of the 126 bears examined between 4 June and 2 January were not shedding…” So any shedding before 2 January has not been reported—I believe to this day. So I’m saying that Iowa’s capture of Holly biting at her paw on December 15 and whenever Ted did that a day or two earlier are new records. My only caveat is that I don’t remember if anyone has reported early chewing like that in previous years. We never would have caught it on the wild den cams because we didn’t install them that early. So if anyone has records of chewing like that before December 15 in previous years, it would be nice to put that all together.

On another thing that I don’t know the whole story about is that I’m not sure how many mink are showing up here at the WRI and I’m having trouble telling them apart. I’m trying to get ID pictures to sort that out. Snapping the occasional picture is an exciting break as I sit at the computer. Also, I’m seeing scattered white hairs on two or three, which is the majority of what I’ve seen, I believe, so it may not be an indicator of old age. I may use white hairs on the head as the best identifier of individuals because I can’t usually see the chin patch well enough. A couple of them are becoming familiar to me and of me. I tried hand-feeding the female? with the clear white chin patch a couple days ago, and she took several slices of bologna. The big male with a clear white chin patch knows the program well here but hasn’t taken anything from my hand. He does know to be alert and eager when I open the door. He looks expectantly as I take a slice of bologna from the package and toss it to him. With no hesitation, he goes to it as soon as it lands. Today, an unusually small one ate a piece of bologna where I could snap a picture. She (guessing because it is the smallest one I’ve seen) saw me through the window but didn’t seem worried. Free ShippingNotice the four white hairs in the middle of her forehead. Seeing how quickly they learn where I put slices and how they behave is most intriguing. How quickly they learn is impressive, and I’m wondering what all they have to learn to survive in their way of life. Before this year I have not had many real experiences with mink. One was seeing a mink carrying a blue jay in its mouth that I believe it ambushed when a blue jay landed right by it in food. The other was on the beaver cam that I had on my desk years ago. The beaver lodge was empty at the time. The lake was covered with thick ice. A mink came up out of the water into the lodge turned around and dove into the entrance and came back with a muskrat in its mouth and began eating it in front of the camera. Nature is intriguing. That’s why I became so curious about bears. A person needs several lifetimes.

Just a note: the Bear Center is offering free shipping on all purchases large and small, domestic and international through December 31st.

Just another note: If someone wants to give a Black Bear Field Study Course to someone for Christmas, information on the courses is at . For more information, call me at 218-365-4480 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Or send a check made out to WRI to me at 145 West Conan Street, Ely, MN 55731. I’ll get it to the bookkeeper and let you know I got it.

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center