2003-04-05 - Update on mothers with cubs

We continue to rejoice that all the research bears made it through the fall hunting season. These include:
  • Shadow, the clan matriarch, now 13 years old, who is in a den with newborn cubs (born in January).
  • Blackheart, Shadow's daughter, now 6 years old, who is in a den with her three yearlings: Braveheart, Valiant, and Shylow (two females and the male Shylow).
  • RC, Shadow's daughter, now 4 years old, who is in a den with a newborn female cub.
  • Dot, Blackheart's daughter, now 3 years old, who is in a den with two newborn female cubs.
  • Donna, Blackheart's daughter, now 3 years old, who is in a den with at least two newborn cubs.
  • Hazel, Shadow's daughter, now 2 years old, who is in a den by herself because she is too young to reproduce.
  • June, Shadow's daughter, now 2 years old, who is not radio-collared but was seen after the hunting season.
  • Will, Shadow's son, now 2 years old, who is not radio-collared but was seen after the hunting season.
  • Miss Piggy, a visitor to the study area and not part of Shadow's clan. She is not radio-collared but was seen late enough in the hunting season (September 22) that we believe she made it.

Dot is proving to be a treasure. One of the goals of the Wildlife Research Institute is to educate the world about how bears live. Dot-and-cub-March-18-2003.jpgThe British Broadcasting Company is filming Dot and her cubs in their den (Feb 2003 and April 3-6, 2003) for what the BBC says will be the top black bear special ever made.To get the intimate color shots of cubs nursing and of Dot caring for the cubs, Lynn takes the camera into the den and spends hours next to this trusting bear, reaching the camera underneath her, feeling for cubs, and taking close-up color video. Dotwcub_L.jpgDot is so trusting that she falls into light slumber with the camera inches from her face. Dot developed trust for Lynn when he held her on his lap as a small cub in spring 2000, as can be seen in the Animal Planet documentary "The Man Who Walks With Bears," which was released in March 2001.

Blackheart and her yearlings left their den in a cedar swamp during a thaw in mid-March. We suspect the den became wet because Blackheart first tried the typical remedy to that situation, which is raking more leaves from small areas where the snow has melted away. These areas were too wet, so she bit cedar boughs from nearby trees and brought those into the den to raise her bed above the wetness. The family then abandoned the den. We haven't followed their radio signal close enough to see what they are doing now, fearing that our approach would disturb them, but what we typically find in this situation is that they move to the base of a big white pine on a south-facing hill where the snow has melted. There, they rake a bed of leaves and pine needles to help insulate them from the frozen ground.

RC and her cub also left their den, but the other four radio-collared bears are still at their dens. 

Volunteers across the United States and Canada are helping to arrange locations and find funding for the WRI's eduational lectures by Lynn.   Lecture locations for 2003 are shaping up in British Columbia, California, Iowa, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and Maine.