Many of you will remember Lily, a wild American black bear, who is part of the long-term study of black bear ecology and behavior being conducted by biologist Lynn Rogers of the Wildlife Research Institute near Ely, Minnesota. Last year WildEarth broadcast directly from Lilly’s den whilst she was pregnant and hibernating. The birth of her lone female cub, Hope, was broadcast live to 25,000 viewers on January 22, 2010 . Hearts melted as Hope’s tiny paw reached out to touch Lily’s nose just after the birth.
Unfortunately, one cub was not enough to keep Lily from coming into estrus last spring. Lily abandoned Hope during the May mating season. Five days later, Hope was found – 2 miles from where she was abandoned – and reunited with Lily. However, by then, Lily’s milk ducts were clogged and Hope became weak trying to keep up with Lily. Researchers stepped in and began feeding Hope a special formula. When Lily abandoned Hope a second time, no attempt was made to reunite them.
Researchers set up a feeding station to keep Hope alive in the wild until wild foods became available and she could forage on her own. They also placed a tiny radio-collar on Hope so they could monitor her movements. Hope thrived. Eventually Hope and Lily crossed paths and reunited on their own. They travelled and foraged together through the late summer and fall, and they denned together in late October.
American black bears normally give birth every 2 years, but Lily was seen with males during last spring’s mating season and is likely pregnant. If she gives birth in mid-late January, we will have the rare opportunity of observing a mixed age litter – new cubs and a yearling from last year’s litter. How will Hope react to new cubs?
Once again a camera has been placed in her den and we started WildEarth started broadcasting LIVE on December 30th. Bill Powers and his Pix Controller team provided the equipment and have put a camera outside of the den this time as well that can pan,tilt and zoom. This will be excellent to see whats going on outside and also when Lily starts to go out and about. Only one camera will be streaming at a time, and these cameras can be selected and remotely controlled by members of the Bear Center or PixController, Inc. Engineers.
To learn more about bears and this bear research visit the North American Bear Center and the Wildlife Research Institute at