Gerry the Bear - UPDATE June 24, 2020

Gerry on Grandfather MountainGerry on Grandfather Mountain

I learned yesterday that Gerry the Bear was humanely euthanized on Saturday, June 20 at the age of 31 after 28 years of good care at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. For the last year, Donna and I have talked a lot about going to see her. Two weeks ago, Donna said we should just start driving that day. A lost opportunity. Gerry will be a chapter in the book. She is the only bear that ever wanted to just be with me, sleep snuggled to me, and have moments of play. There are so many stories about her. I want to start writing the chapter about her very soon.Terri Grooming GerryTerri Grooming Gerry

Her story with people began in Michigan in early March 1980 when photographers found her den and eventually drove the mother away. The Michigan Department of Conservation took her in on March 9 and placed her in rehab care on March 11. The officials made an admirable search for a wild mother to adopt Gerry before bear families began leaving their dens in April. However, no wild mother could be found in Michigan or Wisconsin. The search stretched to Minnesota, and I got a call from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources official in control of my research permit. I agreed to place Gerry with the wild mother I walked with as part of my U.S. Forest Service study.

Lynn with Gerry<br>photo by Hugh MortonLynn with Gerry
photo by Hugh Morton
Meanwhile, Gerry had bonded with the keeper who bottle-fed her for much of that month and was beginning a life that made her loved by many (including me). The list of comments about newspaper articles of her passing show how she has affected so many. In the next few updates, I want to share some remembrances of her. With time short tonight, here are pictures of a couple.

One is of her foster mother Terri grooming little Gerry for ticks as Gerry completely relaxes with bliss in her eyes.

Another is my first reunion with Gerry at Grandfather Mountain in October 15, 1993 after Gerry had been there for 16 months. The third was the next day (October 16) when I joined her alone in her living area and snapped a colorful picture of her coming to me.

So many fond memories.

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

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