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    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeMay 26th 2011 edited

    May 24 Stand off in the woods

    Faith_on_log_-_20110510Bears are having territorial standoffs in this pre-mating period.  It is typically a time of exploring beyond territory boundaries and carving out living areas.  For bears with established territories like June (10) and Juliet (8), it is a time of defending their territories, exploring potential additions, and accommodating daughters that are trying to establish their first territories.  Lily (4) and Jo (3) are still in the process of establishing territories.

    Lily and June spent the day about a quarter to 0.4 mile apart.  Then, about 8 PM, they both headed toward each other.  June moved 0.2 mile west while Lily moved nearly a tenth of a mile east.  GPS locations showed them 68 yards apart.  We don’t know if they went closer between locations, but 40 minutes later they were 290 yards apart and moving farther apart.  This was an interaction between a mother and daughter, and we know from other bears that mothers often show deference to their daughters and grant them space.  We remember one mother that went after her daughter and chased her to the top of a big red pine.  She sniffed her daughter in the treetop, and calmly climbed down.  Interactions can vary, which is why we are interested in how Lily and June are dealing with territoriality.  We are anxious to see if either bear has any injuries and who eventually claims ownership to the clover patch in the center of their contested area.  Pictures of Faith) taken on May 10.

    Additional video footage of Hope playing in the hollow log has been posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbONk59p13Q.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeMay 26th 2011

    May 25; Lily moves on

    Hope_-_20110510Since May 10th, Lily has stayed in an area a half mile in diameter centered around a lush patch of clover. Her mother June confronted her there on May 20th and has focused her own activity in that area ever since. Not wanting to risk complicating the situation, we have stayed away. Today, Lily led her family 1.7 miles away, leaving the clover patch to June and her 2 cubs.  Photos of Hope (right) and Lily and Faith (left) were taken May 10th.

    We’ll connect with Lily soon. She needs new batteries in her GPS unit and that will give us an opportunity to see how Faith is doing. Faith’s little legs have carried her farther for her age than any other cub we know. The family’s limited travel in the past 2 weeks has likely been good for Faith. We’re anxious to see her and document any changes.


    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeJun 9th 2011

    June 3


    Lily gave us a scare today—and shortly gave us a sigh of relief.  At 7:34 AM, we got a call that a cub was up in a tree abandoned by a mother and yearling that had left her, and the cub was crying.  Oh no, not again, we thought.  Lynn rushed to the area to radio-locate Lily in time to see her and Hope dutifully coming back for Faith.  Lynn hurried ahead to the tree Faith had climbed.  She was on the ground, climbed a short way, and then came back down.  She stood with her front feet against the tree and looked up the trunk.  Lynn marked the height of her nose in his mind and later measured how tall she stood—26 3/8 inches.  She is growing!  Then Faith looked away into the forest and hurried up the tree.  She looked again and came down just as fast.  She met Lily 5 feet from the tree and stood up and put both paws on Lily’s face and touched Lily’s lips with hers.  So human!  Then she ran 5 feet to Hope who was standing on her hind legs looking around.  Faith stood up with her paws against Hope’s belly and stretched up as far as she could to greet her.  After Faith’s crying and undoubtedly feeling abandoned, her relief and joy of reuniting was obvious.  Then the 3 walked off at a fast walk—Lily on Faith’s left and Hope on her right with Faith at a near run to keep up.

    Lily_et_al_-_20110603Later this morning we connected with Lily to change her GPS unit. We found the family together and very playful—as can be seen in the video which will be posted later tonight at http://www.youtube.com/user/bearstudy#g/u.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeJun 20th 2011

    June 13 Faith loves Hope

    Faith_riding_Hope_-_20110611Is love too strong a word to use for an animal?  Or is love such a basic emotion that any sentient being with a sense of self can feel it?  You decide.  Faith treats Hope like a surrogate mother.  She seeks her out to play.  She follows Hope more readily than she follows Lily.  Today, when ultra-wary Hope was startled and ran, Faith hesitated a moment beside Lily and then ran after Hope.  When the two were deep enough in the woods to feel safe, Faith initiated wrestling.

    Hope_and_Faith_stump_play_-_20110611Hope is usually the first to run at any hint of danger.  Is this a holdover from her time alone?  Can bears have post traumatic stress disorder?  That seems just a possible as love for wary animals that live their lives with caution.  When she is running for a tree or diving back into the den (last spring), she does it with an unusual desperation, like “Everybody watch out.  I’m coming through!”

    Faith and Hope are a joy to watch together or with Lily. In the first picture, taken June 11, Faith leaped from a stump onto Hope’s back and playfully bit her neck before getting shaken off.

    Lily’s mammae are still swollen and full.  Lily is the only mother we know with a yearling at this point.  It’s looking more and more like Hope will get an extra year with the family.

    Thank you for all you do.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeJun 20th 2011

    June 18


    Faith_-_20110618We checked on Lily and family because someone spotted them without Faith last evening.  Not a problem.  Today, they all were nearly 4 miles from last evening’s sighting and foraging like mad on ant pupae.  The warm weather has finally brought on good ant reproduction.  Ant larvae and pupae, collectively called ant brood by myrmecologists, are a favorite food, maybe the favorite food.  Faith was taking advantage of logs that Lily opened.  Sometimes she ate the leftovers after Lily left and sometimes she fed alongside Lily.   Hope is outgrowing that privilege.  Lily is treating her more like a competitor and is telling her to go find her own food.  Hope used to be able to run Lily off food.  Now, Lily even blows and swats at Hope when Hope tries to horn in.  However, Hope can still plead like a cub and be accommodated at times.

    Another favorite food is hazelnuts, which only occasionally have a good crop.  The last bumper crop was in 2001 here.  Hope pulled down a bush and ate a green hazelnut—shell and all.  The shells are still soft this time of year.  They ripen in late July and persist into early September, although most are stashed by squirrels or eaten by filbert worms (Cydia latiferreanus) by the end of August.   Years ago, the bears showed us that they begin eating them as soon as the nut begins to form.  It was great to see little Hope pull down the bush like an expert and home in on the nut.  The nuts are camouflaged in green and look a lot like a leaf at this point.  They must have an irresistible smell because bears often stop what they are doing to follow their noses to hazelnuts on the bush.


    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2011

    July 11 Hope is a beauty


    Hope shed last year’s fur and emerged a beauty.  She has perhaps the most distinctively marked black bear face we have seen yet.  The contrast between the dark bridge and light sides of her muzzle and the contrast between her narrow bright eyebrow patches against black fur set her apart.   Faith is growing up to have a similar face.  The two are going to be hard to tell apart in a couple years.

    Faith_7-11-11aWe got a good look at them both yesterday when the family cruised through the Research Center for the first time this year.  They didn’t give us much time to look, though, as they had no interest in anything except sniffing around and pulling down a couple chokecherry trees with green cherries.  Then they moved on.


    Today, they were miles away in the clearcut near their den of this past winter. They were opening logs for ant pupae.  They were on their way through that area, too, heading farther south to bigger clearcuts with even more logs and stumps to tear open.

    Where did they get such distinctive dark muzzles?  Lily has the same light sides to her muzzle but has a light bridge, too.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2011

    July 12 Hope is radio collared

    Faith_on_Hope_7-12-11bShe didn’t want it, but she got it.  We truly hope ribbons on this collar come fall will allow us to continue studying this unusual family another year.  It took the pecans you sent to do it.  It’s pretty loose, which may be okay for her small neck and big head at this age.  We hope it will stay on.

    Faith was sticking by big sister Hope and climbing on her.  They are true friends.  It will be interesting to see how they relate after family breakup next spring when sisters normally become competitors.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011

    Aug 7  Looking good

    Faith_20110807Lily and family are looking good.  Cute Faith (left) with her beautiful face is looking more and more like a big bear every day.  Hope’s face is like a twin to Faith’s, and she (left below) and Lily (right) are shed out and looking sleek as they begin to grow their winter coat.  At this point, the fur lies close to the body, making them look as small as they can be.  In a few weeks, the underfur will grow in, making the growing guard hairs (the long visible hairs) stand straight out.  By then, the guard hairs will be 3 to 4 inches long.  When that happens, there are no reports of small bears.  They all look big and twice their actual weight.

    It was good to see Lily and family.  We saw them as they were returning to Lily’s territory after exploring an area they had not been before.  From their GPS locations, it looks like they ran into Ursula and her two cubs in Ursula’s territory, which may be why they skedaddled back to safety.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeAug 21st 2011

    From Aug 13

    Hope Collared & uncollared

    Hope_in_tree_collared_-_20110813Hope was collared for a few moments of celebration before she took it off.  After all, it is the 13th.  But it went better than before.  Maybe she was hungrier this time.  There is hope.  The picture shows Hope in a white pine just before she dropped the collar to the ground.

    At this moment, with baiting underway, the bears are safe.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeAug 21st 2011

    From Aug 15

    Lily Hope & Faith

    Faith__Hope_8-15-11What a joy it was today to see Lily, Hope, and Faith as a family.  Who would have thought that such a relationship would develop between Faith and her older sister.  Watching Faith ‘attack’ Hope in play, and watching the two wrestle with gentle vigor and then relax with each other makes one wonder what these animals are feeling and if we will ever fathom the true breadth of wild minds.

    New_Mom_cub_8-15-11Hope and Faith are doing so well!  Hope is a full size yearling, and Faith is strong and well developed.  This was brought home to us when we spotted a much smaller cub in a tree (right) with its mother this evening.  Faith shed her cub fur weeks ago and has the straight, black fur of an adult.  The smaller cub still had its cub fur, complete with brown fur inside its ears.  Faith is developing the longer nose of a bigger bear.  The smaller cub still has very cub-life features.  We’d guess that Faith weighs about 40 pounds—enough to easily survive over winter and spring.  We’d guess the smaller cub at barely 25 pounds and in need of gaining more weight in the next 7-8 weeks if it is to have a good chance of surviving past next spring.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeAug 21st 2011

    from Aug 16  Hope & Faith

    Hope_and_collar_-_20110816We tried to put a radio-collar on Hope again.  The two semi-successful attempts so far this summer ended with her taking the collar off in short order each time.  Since then, we haven’t been successful in getting it on at all. 

    Hope_open_mouth_-_20110816The pictures show the story—from her skeptical look at the collar and the person holding it to her almost playful look after we gave up.

    We remembered her reaction last year when little Hope so vigorously resisted being fitted with a collar as a cub.  For comparison now, having failed to put the collar on Hope, we wondered if Faith would be more cooperative.  She was.  We put it on with only moderate resistance from her, and she ignored it once it was on.  A far cry from Hope’s immediate attempts to remove it once she found we got it on the two times earlier this year.  And that was after she got used to wearing a collar for over 3 months last summer.   We hope she eventually will accept our placing collars on her, adjusting them periodically, and changing batteries in her GPS unit should we be that lucky.

    Faith_with_collar_-_20110816Faith’s lack of reaction is a good indication that we’ll be able to give her a radio-collar in the spring before family break-up and learn her movements in relation to Lily and (hopefully) Hope as the three of them iron out land tenure issues among themselves and their close kin June and Jewel.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeAug 26th 2011

    Aug 24

    Lily Gets Ribboned

    Putting ribbons on Lily was an experience, thanks to Faith.   We put ribbons and radio-collars on bears using trust and treats, of course, but today Faith wanted all the treats.

    Lily and Hope may be in the early stages of slowing down for the winter.  They were bedded this afternoon for nearly 4 hours.  We know from past experience that mothers want to settle down earlier than their cubs do.  When Sue caught up to the trusting trio deep in the woods, Faith was ravenous.  She vocalized (“mine-mine-mine-mine…”) to both Lily and Hope, letting them know that she wanted the food and would go after them if they got in her way.  She even went after dear big sister Hope, who backed off from famished Faith, just as Lily did, and let her have all the nuts.  With all that happening, and Sue being alone, it was all she could do to get the ribbons on Lily, and she didn’t think to take a picture.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeAug 26th 2011

    Aug 25

    Ribbons & collars

    Lily_-_20110825While changing batteries in Lily’s GPS unit today, we added an indestructible 2" wide piece of extremely bright stiff plastic with reflective strips that will be highly visible (picture).  It can be seen sticking out on the right side of the picture.

    In an attempt to radio-collar Hope, we tried and failed again a few days ago and then asked 2 top dog trainers if they would try.  They were extremely skillful and sensitive.  Hope responded well with us beside her, but she still wouldn’t accept the collar.  Next, we got a tip from a Lily fan about a top animal trainer.  We gave her a call and asked what we could do.  She gave very good advice.  She obviously knew what she was talking about.  We were encouraged to hear her suggest exactly what we already doing.

    It is interesting to see Hope’s mind work.  She is relaxed when we are not holding a collar.  She notices the collar as soon as it is visible.  You saw ‘the look’ she gave the collar in the picture a few days ago—priceless.

    Our only hope is to catch her so hungry that she lets her guard down for a few seconds as happened twice this summer so far.  If we get it on this late in the year, we won’t have to adjust it before she goes into hibernation and begins losing weight.  However, a problem every time we put it on is that if we put it tight enough that it won’t come off, she balks big time.  Each time, it went on looser than we’d like and she took it off pronto.  Last year, when she was a cub, on about the hundredth try that night we got it on, we got it on looser than seemed right.  But her head at that age was so much bigger than her neck that it stayed on—more like a necklace at first than a collar.  It turned out to be perfect.  We removed it in fall because the batteries in that little collar would expire over winter, so there was no sense having her wear it in the den.

    If she accepts it in a moment of weakness in the next few days, we hope she will also let us attach ribbons to it.  She may not look at ribbons the same way she does a collar.  Several other bears have refused to let us put collars on them.  That’s why Shadow, RC, Bow, Pete, and a few others that would otherwise be part of the study are not wearing them.  Shadow, RC, and Bow each wore collars for awhile but decided not to wear them anymore.  Those bears make us thankful for the bears that will wear them and ignore them and provide amazing data.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2011

    Sept 1. They are really working hard to get hunting stopped of the ribboned bears

    Sept 1

    Lily_and_Hope_-_20110901This opening day of bear season is over and Lily, Hope, Faith, June, Juliet, Jo, Braveheart, Ursula, Shirley, and Sharon are okay.  We haven’t seen a hunter, although we heard distant shots.  We and 7 radio-tracking volunteers gathered at 5 AM to begin monitoring these bears from roads and be available to answer questions from any hunters encountered.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011

    Sept 21 VERY WORRIED

    Hope is missing.  When we saw only Lily and Faith last evening, it didn’t seem right, but it wasn’t the first time one of the trio was out of sight.  However, our concern made us check them this morning.  We found Lily and Faith but no sign of Hope.  Someone saw a lone yearling at a distance, but we can think of 4 other yearlings it could be.  The local bear registration station has not registered a bear since before Saturday, according to the DNR. 

    We’re trying not to think of the huge loss this would be to all of us and to science.  We’ve jumped to conclusions before and been wrong.  Earlier this year, we couldn’t get Cookie’s and Colleen’s telemetry signals from the ground or from an airplane and thought the worst until they showed up. 

    We’re on edge and want the relief of knowing Hope is okay.  You’re all feeling the same, we’re sure.   We’re putting out feelers for more information.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011 edited

    Sept 22 Hope still Missing

    At this point, we know nothing except that no one has seen Hope.  We all just hope she is safe.  Many are praying and lighting candles.  We spent the day putting together the puzzle of Lily’s movements leading up to Hope’s disappearance.  Nothing is clear. 

    We just want to know what the story is with Hope.  With her refusing to wear a radio-collar, we are all in suspense.  We are thinking the worst, of course, but we have been wrong before, and we know little about mixed-age litters.  Maybe we are about to learn something.  We sure hope so. 

    People in the area are calling us with sightings of single young bears.  We do know that cubs get a little independent at this time of year.  Today at midday, Faith was foraging a third of a mile away from where Lily was resting.  They were together again this evening.  Could Hope be doing the same, only more so because she is older?  We don’t think so.  Could Hope have gone off to make a den, considering that she was already into den construction a couple weeks ago?  We doubt it.  We left a message with the local DNR office asking for more information about young females being registered recently.  We’re waiting for them to call us back. 

    p.s> Hope was last seen Sept 17 I read on their FBFaith 9-22-11


    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2011

    Sept 24 Hope for the future

    We are humbled by the outpouring of heartfelt support we received today from Lily fans.   We are all in this together and supporting each other is more important than ever.  We have done some real soul-searching—asking ourselves what we could have done differently to better protect Hope.  Some of you are asking similar questions.   

    Each fall we walk a fine line between protecting the research bears and respecting the rights of hunters.  Radio-collared bears are only legally protected if they are accompanied by a researcher who identifies the bear as a research bear.  This sounds easy.  Just assign someone to each radio-collared bear to shepherd them through the hunt.  But the reality if far from easy. 

    Not all of the radio-collared bears will tolerate being walked with and few people are experienced enough to sensitively walk with a bear and not influence it movements.  Bears are difficult to keep up with when they move through dense woods without stopping and hunters don’t want researchers trouping through the woods interrupting their hunt.

    It’s likely that Hope wandered into a bait site unaccompanied by radio-collared Lily.  If we were walking with Hope into that bait site, the hunter could have rightfully charged us with interrupting his/her hunt.  And our presence would not have prevented the hunter from legally shooting non-collared Hope.  A hunter harassment charge would jeopardize our permit.  Without our permit the research ends.

    Many have suggested we mark the non-collared bears in some way—paint, dye, etc.  That would make them noticeable but it wouldn’t really protect them.  Plus it would serve to undermine our credibility as researchers and aggravate the hunters whose cooperation we rely on to spare the radio-collared bears.

    June at_den_9-24-11

    We tried to collar Hope so many times we lost track of the count.  We even designed a new attachment system that would make the collaring process quicker.  We found she would tolerate the collar resting on the back of her neck but as soon as she felt it going around the front she resisted.  She would push it down with her paw, pull away, give us a long nose, or turn and place her teeth on our arm (though never bit us).  She got wise and would take a mouthful of nuts, move off, then spit them out to eat at her usual one-at-a-time pace.  We also had Lily and Faith to contend with.  Lily wasn’t a problem, but Faith would often challenge Hope for the nuts—even if Faith had her own.  The variables we had to work with were many and Hope simply did not want to be collared.

    We wanted to spend time with Lily and Faith today in the remote location they have moved to, but it became a media day.  Word of Hope’s disappearance has spread and we received many calls from reporters. 

    June den_9-24-11a

    This afternoon we noticed June’s GPS unit had quit giving us her locations.  Was she in a den?  At 6:28 AM, her GPS had shown her to be back at the deep rock den she and Lily both checked out a couple weeks ago.  Then nothing.  We walked in on her radio-signal to check.  The family was there, all right, and what a deep den.  The entrance is a chimney 8-10 feet down—the deepest we have seen.  We don’t know how June and her cubs climb out.  We zoomed in on the bed and took a flash picture—no bedding yet.  They haven’t begun raking. 

    June’s heart rate was variable.  Pauses between some beats were nearly 2 seconds (about 24 beats per minute) followed by more rapid beats.  There were 4 to 6 beats per 5-second interval, which translates to 48 to 72 beats per minute. 

    It was a relief to see June and her cubs safe at a den.  We hope they stay there.  We dread the hunting season all year.  Every time we feel the privilege of being with a wild animal that trusts us enough to ignore us, we worry we’ll lose her come hunting season.  So often we have been in the midst of obtaining unique data, as with Hope, and have had the story cut short by a hunter. 

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2011

    Looking for closure Sept 25

    We’re looking for closure in 2 ways. 

    First, we need information from the DNR.  We emailed them the location of the bait site that Lily and family visited repeatedly, as indicated by her GPS locations and the known location of the bait.  If Hope was killed by a hunter as we believe, we hope they will provide us with as much registration information as possible and the circumstances surrounding her death.  We will not give out the hunter’s name.  We did many interviews today and did not mention it.  We’ll pass on any other registration information we get to you. 

    Lily and_Faith_-_20110925
    Lily -_20110925Second, we need to spend time with Lily and Faith, digest the loss, and think forward.  We couldn’t bring ourselves to do that yesterday—just not ready—but we did today and got some super video.  Lily appeared to be doing some cursory den investigation.  She and Faith tore apart a log and located a few grubs.  Faith found a old well-chewed white-tail deer antler and had a good chew.  We followed them to a cedar swamp on the edge of a lake where they both ‘bathed’ in a wallow.  Lily and Faith continue to teach.  Today was a beautiful day with a surge of fall color.  A great day to be in the woods walking with bears.

    We will make several videos from today’s footage.  We’ll do our best to get one up tonight at http://www.youtube.com/user/bearstudy#g/u.

    Colors Jasper_Peak_9-25-11

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2011

    acts come in


    We never received confirmation from the MN DNR, but early this morning we heard directly from the hunter who killed Hope.  We appreciate him contacting us.  This is what we know. 


    Hope was killed on the evening of Friday the 16th.  She came into his bait site alone and the hunter had no clue it was Hope.  The hunter is known to us and has cooperated with us in the past.  He would never shoot a collared bear and would not have deliberately shot Hope.  He also is not a member of the ‘Bounty’ page and has never posted there. 


    There has been some confusion due to the fact we posted on Sept 17th that the family was fine.  We, in fact, did not see Hope or Faith on the 17th.  Sue found Lily alone and changed her GPS.  Lily walked away grunting and tongue-clicking.  We assumed Hope and Faith were together nearby (which is often the case) and Lily was going to them.  We had no reason to believe otherwise.  Sorry for any confusion this caused.


    Please respect our desire to keep the hunter’s name confidential.  Attacks on him or hunters in general will only serve to undermine our potential for future research and education.  We will provide another update later today with additional information.


    Please be kind and supportive to each other as we all work through this.

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeOct 14th 2011 edited

    MOVED TO  LILY & FAITH 2011-2012 PART 1

    • CommentAuthoreiguoc
    • CommentTimeOct 20th 2011 edited

    MOVED TO  .LILY & FAITH 2011-2012 PART 1