Thoughts of Lily - UPDATE August 9, 2019

When we began the pontoon boat ride on August 6, the day we first saw Lily, we cruised by an active beaver lodge that had the remains of last winter’s food cache (mostly alder branches carried there by the beavers) scattered in front of it. Lily alert 8-6-19Lily on alert 8-6-19Then we saw a family of nearly grown mallard ducks. We stopped by an eagle nest, but our main goal was the den where Lily gave birth to Hope on January 22, 2010. As we approached the den, which is only about 5 feet from the shoreline, we saw the bare rocks where a shoreline tree had fallen inland decades ago, leaving many bare rocks that had been covered by its roots. It’s possible that some of the rocks were later thrown out of the den by the bear who dug it some years before Lily claimed it.

As we pulled the pontoon boat up to shore, we could see the den with the fallen trunk going over its middle. To the left of the trunk was the entrance where the den cam went into the den. The opening to the right of the log is the result of the roof caving in, probably during a spring melt.

Lily and Hope's den 8-6-19 Lily Hope's den 8-6-19
Lily and Hope's den of 2009/2010

We remember the fall of 2009 when she selected this den. We found Lily lying less than a hundred yards west of it near the shore, but we didn’t yet know about this den. Beaver lodge 8-6-19Beaver lodge 8-6-19The previous winter, she had denned a hundred yards farther west near the shore, so we checked that den to see if there was any sign of a visit. Nothing. We then walked along the shore to the east of where she was lying and stumbled onto the den she would eventually use. It had signs of raking bedding. But to our surprise, Lily left that spot and traveled 1.9 miles southwest around the end of the lake to a peninsula that was only 0.8 miles away as the crow flies. There she tried to dig two dens but ran into big boulders she couldn’t move. We videoed her after that as she sat looking pensive. Mallard family 8-6-19Mallard family 8-6-19The screen shot of that look became the iconic picture we used so often in updates later. Her next move was back to the den that showed raking. The rest is history.

Then we saw her for the first time this year with her four cubs. Lily was the ultimate mother, constantly alert for other bears and the locations of the four cubs. Everyone on that trip will remember those moments.

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