The cub grows stronger

The cub grows stronger

Update February 27, 2010 - 8:03 PM CST

The cub is growing stronger, trying to stand, but still unsteady and not quite strong enough yet.  Now that we have access to the archived footage right from www.bear.org, we can review snippets whenever we miss something.  Linda Gibson has been doing a great job creating videos of each day’s highlights.

The new mic opens up a world of sound—and we have a month and a half to listen and learn as the cub becomes ever more visible.

We’ve often wondered if we’re able to hear every sound adult bears make.  Could there be infra-sounds too low to notice?  It would be interesting to speed up the recorded sounds to see if any infra-sounds appear.

Black bears have such big ears, it’s possible they can catch lower frequencies than we hear.  We know they hear higher tones like dog whistles.  We couldn’t help wondering about infra-sounds when we noticed bears becoming alert to other bears over a hundred yards away—when we heard nothing.  It’s likely their extra sensitivity to normal frequencies explains it, but it seemed amazing enough to make us wonder.

By the time Lily and her cub leave the den in mid April, we’ll all be experts on the sounds of mothers and cubs and have a pretty good idea of the contexts of the different sounds.

Lily has been eating a lot of snow lately.  Her mother June ate considerable snow late in the denning period, too.

It’s normal for bears to scratch and groom a lot.  We’ve never seen a hint of mites on Lily.  Fleas and lice are uncommon on healthy bears.  The great coat she wore into the den did not show any hint of Pelodera strongyloides, a tiny nematode that can live in hair follicles and stunt the growth of hair and cause dermatitis.   Dry skin is common in winter.  Rolling around in her bedding, she may have bits of bedding down in her fur, too.   Bears just get itches that need to be scratched.

Her fur has two layers, the long guard hairs and short fine brown under fur that serves as long underwear.  Next summer, Lily will be scratching to get rid of that under fur like you’ll see her doing in ‘Bearwalker of the Northwoods’ on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom on Animal Planet, Sunday evening, April 4.   It’s not listed on their website yet, but that’s when we’ve been told it will be.

Thank you all again for your donations and words of support!

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

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