2001-08-07 - Volunteers organizing to protect radio-collared bears

If we didn't know that Blackheart had been hit by a truck a month ago, we would not guess it from seeing her.  Any little hesitancy in her walking would not be noticeable if we were not looking for it.  She has regained her weight and more-now up to 254 pounds and climbing.  Her quick recovery makes us optimistic that she will have cubs in January if she survives the hunting season.  

Volunteers who reside in the study area and elsewhere are organizing to help protect her and the other radio-collared study bears during hunting season.  Volunteers are putting signs up throughout her territory asking hunters to be alert for radio-collared bears.  Across the Minnesota Northland, bear foods are patchy this summer, due in part to defoliation by the tent caterpillars that were the mainstay of the bears' diet a few weeks ago.  Bears are finding enough patches to be occupied and are not causing an excessive number of problems.  Area Game Manager Fred Thunhorst of Ely said he had only four calls about bears in the last week, and the worst problem was a bear eating from a bird feeder.  Even bears that raid bird feeders are doing fairly well.  A huge 2.52 pound dropping from a mother bear in the city of Ely on August 6 contained primarily round-leaved dogwood berries, pin cherries, and dwarf dogwood berries, with traces of bald-faced hornets and black oil sunflower seeds.  Nevertheless, natural food is not as abundant as in recent years, which will make hunters' baits more effective in attracting the hungry bears.