Snow accumulating on Lily's back

 January 25, 2010 - 7:59 PM CST

A foot of heavy snow fell overnight, some of it piling up in the den entrance, some of it on Lily's back.  Lily's main insulation is the fur on her back and sides.  The fact that the snow didn't immediately melt is testimony to that insulation.  Measurements we made on a bear some years back showed that snow would accumulate on its back at temperatures less than 18F.  But the depth and thickness of pelts vary.  Lily has a super pelt.  Her guard hairs are about 4 inches long with dense underfur.  Running my hand down her back, I was amazed at the cloud of fur.  So I wasn't surprised this morning to see snow on her back despite a temperature of 30F.  As she moved, some shook off, and it may have been slowly melting, too.

Thank you all for your tremendous response to our plea for volunteers to record observations of Lily and cub.  Janet Dalton, who has been through our Black Bear Field Course and knows Lily, has volunteered to organize the responses for full coverage.

Also, thank you all again, every day, for your donations.  Every penny of the donations reduces the principal.  None is taken for administrative costs, overhead, or the usual way donations are diluted.  We all work mostly as volunteers.  Our highest paid employee gets $15,000 per year.  I call the dedicated staff the Miracle Team for all they do for so little.  I don't know any organization that does more for less.

Our goal is simply to educate.  We realize people won't coexist with an animal they fear.  The key is knowledge.  We replace misconceptions with facts, and nobody can do that better than the bears themselves.

What makes our research different is that it’s based on trust.  Trust is why Lily did not abandon her den when we placed the camera in it.  Over the years, we have graduated to kinder and gentler research, and learned more and more as the bears allowed us to observe.  Now, with Lily, we have thousands of observers.  We are looking for opportunities for more of the same.  You can see background on Lily in the upcoming documentary ‘Bearwalker of the Northwoods’ on Animal Planet in April.

—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, North American Bear Center

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