Something new is now available!

Something new is now available!

Update March 6, 2010 – 9:00 PM CST

Temperatures are in the mid-40’s again.  Snow is melting.  Hope is more in the open and not squawking about being exposed now that she has fur and it’s no longer below zero.  The den cam viewing is ever more amazing!

With the warm weather, people are snowmobiling, using chainsaws, and flying airplanes.  The microphone on loan from Cinnequipt of Minneapolis is so sensitive it picks up all these sounds, but actually they’re far away and no threat to Lily and Hope.  Lily must be used to these sounds, because we all see how she ignores them.

Yesterday many of you watched as Lily groomed Hope.  This included Lily engulfing Hope’s neck in her mouth.  That’s also the way mothers carry cubs, by tucking a cub’s neck far into their mouth behind the canines.  They use the canines to cradle the cub rather than grab it.  The cubs are quiet, and the mothers are careful.  If a cub squawks, the mother drops it and may gently try again.  Bears learn to precisely control their bite by the age of two, the youngest age any bear has given birth.  They also control the power of their bite during play, which often looks rough but is gentle.

Talk of play and biting reminds Lynn of “the only bear that ever really liked me” as he puts it.  Bears like Lily trust him enough to ignore him much of the time, but aren’t drawn to him.  But the one bear that really liked Lynn was Gerry who used to tackle him to play.  The story of Gerry is worth a whole book, but she played by lightly biting.  The only way Lynn could escape when Gerry had him down was to put his arm in her mouth, grab a paw, roll her on her back, and rub her belly to relax her and change her mood.  Gerry didn’t know what to do when Lynn’s arm filled her mouth and she couldn’t get rid of it and could not bite down.  Adult bears can very carefully control the power of their bites.

Hope is so big, we’re wondering if she will beat the record of 9 pounds set by the one other single cub we weighed around the time of emergence from a den.

Weighing cubs in early spring was mostly done back in the ‘old days’ of drugging and dragging bears out of dens to get weights, blood samples, and measurements.  We also checked for injuries, collected any ecto-parasites, ear-tagged cubs, changed radio-collars, measured dens, determined sexes of cubs, etc.   All good stuff—but nothing like we get now with trust.  We are learning so much more.

I don’t know if we will get to know Hope well enough to weigh her by the time she emerges.  However, we did do that with Blackheart’s cubs, Dot and Donna, back in 2000.  We spent so much time at their den that we were able to weigh the cubs a couple days after emergence.  Blackheart watched from a couple feet away as Lynn weighed each cub at 6 pounds.  Dot was napping on Lynn’s lap as he looped cords under her arms to lift her with a scale.  Doug Hajicek (who put together the Lily Den Cam Team and equipment) was there filming for his Animal Planet documentary ‘The Man Who Walks With Bears’ –the first of the mythbuster documentaries.

Dot and Donna have now grown into 10-year-old adults.  Donna is one of the two bears we’ve wanted to check for cubs in her den.  The snow has now melted enough to drive within a mile of her den.  Dot is in another den with yearlings, her fourth litter, but the den is so far back in the woods we’ll wait until spring to check for overwinter survival.

Many people deserve thanks:

  • Linda Gibson and others for posting great videos.
  • Janet Dalton and Lynne Cann for the huge amount of time they have put into organizing the 200 Lily-watchers into an effective group gathering standardized data for analysis.
  • The 200 Lily watchers who are responsibly filling their shifts or filling in for others to record minute by minute data.
  • Jim Stroner for donating a huge telescope for use by young visitors at the North American Bear Center.
  • John Derych and Mary Carson for donating boxes of bear books to start a Bear Center Library.
  • To several of you for ideas for educational outreach and fundraising.
  • To the classes and individuals who have held fundraisers and made contributions to help reduce the debt and expand our educational effort.

Something new is now available.

North American Bear Center will make the original 59-minute BBC version of ‘Bearwalker of the Northwoods’ available on DVD for $24.95 the week after it airs in shortened form (43 minutes) on Animal Planet (April 4).

This full version from the makers of ‘Planet Earth’ is riveting.  The beauty of it will make everyone want to come to the Lilypad Picnic.  But most of all, we want each of Lily’s fans to show this life-changing documentary to their neighbors, friends, and families.  It changes attitudes.  It shows a side of wild bears no one knew was there.  It leaves audiences strangely quiet followed by applause and animated discussion.  It takes this full 59-minute version to get the full effect with laughter and tears.  We believe this full version will never air in North America and the North American Bear Center will be the only source of it for private noncommercial use.

The NABC Gift Shop is currently taking pre-orders of ‘Bearwalker’ to see how many to order.  We are also offering a combination of this video and “The Man Who Walks With Bears” for $39.95 as long as supplies of the latter last.  Place your order today.

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