Famed bear births twins

JIm Stoner for Wildlife Research Institute
Lily the bear peeks out of her den earlier this year. She gave birth to twins on Jan. 12.
Marshall Helmberger

One of the world’s most famous bears has given birth to twins.

Lily, who gained worldwide attention three years ago when the birth of her cub, Hope, was broadcast live on the Internet, delivered two apparently healthy cubs this past Saturday, with thousands of her human fans again watching by den cam.

Bear researcher Lynn Rogers, with the Wildlife Research Institute, said he’s only been able to glimpse one of the cubs so far, but judged from vocalizations that both animals are healthy. “They both have strong voices,” he said.

Lily and her two cubs are spending the winter under a large pile of limbs left over from a recent logging operation in Eagles Nest Township, located between Tower and Ely. Lily entered the den back on Sept. 10 and has remained there ever since.

While bears in northern Minnesota spend most of their lives in their dens, little has been known about what bears do in their winter residences, that is, until den cams offered researchers and the public a glimpse into their world. Unlike true hibernators, bears wake up from time to time during the winter and that’s been true of Lily, as well as a related bear, Jewel, who is denned up with her two yearling cubs and is also being monitored by den cam. “Contrary to old beliefs about hibernation, the [Jewel’s] family is often awake with the cubs still seeking to nurse,” said Rogers.

Rogers is being helped in his research efforts by a team of 130 volunteer den watchers, who provide round-the-clock monitoring of the bear dens, collecting data on bear activities.

Lily’s two cubs were born about a week or so earlier than researchers had expected. In two previous years, Lily had given birth around Jan. 20. Despite the earlier than expected birth, there’s no reason to think the cubs were born prematurely, said Rogers. The difference could simply mean that the fertilized eggs implanted in Lily a bit earlier than before. While bears mate in May and June in the North Country, the fertilized eggs don’t typically implant in the mother bear’s womb until November. After a roughly two-month gestation, the tiny cubs are born blind and with little fur, leaving them utterly dependent on their mother for several months. If all goes well, the cubs should open their eyes for the first time in about six weeks. They could emerge from the den for the first time in early to mid-April, or possibly earlier depending on weather conditions.

Rogers is perhaps best known for his unusual method of studying wild black bears, which include building trust through hand-feeding, which allows Rogers and fellow researchers to walk with bears through the forest and monitor their activities continuously and at close range. “Learning from bears directly creates a better understanding of the species as more people move into bear habitat. Old myths are being replaced with facts,” said Rogers.

But Rogers has occasionally clashed with officials from the Department of Natural Resources, who maintain that his methods are habituating bears to humans and causing problems for people and bears alike. Rogers disagrees and says his research shows that diversionary feeding of black bears can actually reduce bear problems, particularly during times when natural bear foods are relatively scarce.


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Not only good news, but also an informative article. Good job!

Thursday, January 17, 2013 | Report this

I'd say it's time to do a little more investigative journalism. The Minnesota DNR just slapped this outfit for not doing scientific research, no methodology, and danger to locals.

You must have heard of this? This article is like reporting on a budget bill in Washington and not mentioning the deficit.

Friday, January 18, 2013 | Report this

Marshall if you care to peruse the link provided to see the reality of the situation, this has become somewhat of a circus, a huge controversy has evolved around the subject of how habituated and quite possibly how tame these bears are, please take a look here to see how ferociously the fans behave when the subject is broached. https://www.facebook.com/KBJR6Range11NewsToday/posts/579879242027348?comment_id=7074070&offset=0&total_comments=150

Friday, January 18, 2013 | Report this

Funny how the post by clm1117 suggests that the reporter do further investigation, when clm1117 has been directly instrumental in attempting to influence the DNR to not renew the permit of The WRI , citing the very reasons above, and has openly bragged about it on one or more Facebook pages.

Kind of like an arsonist who calls 911 and reports the fire he set.

Friday, January 18, 2013 | Report this

Enjoyed the article, btw!

Friday, January 18, 2013 | Report this

Thank you for a fine article. Ignore clm, he has connection to the Lily the Bounty page and his own page identifies him well,NC Activist Mouthpiece. Anyone interested in doing a psych page on bullying should check those pages for material.

Friday, January 18, 2013 | Report this

Oh dear, what exactly are you trying to imply deerwhisperer?? that the poster did something underhanded by expressing his opinion? I think clm 1117 is making a great point, the research is BUNK, nothing short of a circus show, feeding tame bears, he is going to be the ruin of his circus animals by habituating them, the locals are being terrorised and won't stand for it. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK clm 1117, get that permit pulled, the dnr restricted it this time round and feel the need to re evaluate it in July, anyone who wishes to join in the effort to have the permit revoked should join the LILY A BEAR WITH A BOUNTY page on FB to state your opinion.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Report this

dazzle needs to take a look at her own reflection for bullying and being nieve and gullible, and maybe having one or two too many drinkies.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Report this

Thanks for the support Bab.

I'd say this to the Timberjay - Facts are facts - WRI was hit with an extremely damning cover letter and reduced permit due to the lack of scientific standards. They were also hit for hunter harassment, and taming bears.

These are points none of the WRI's supporters ever bring forward to refute or dispute. They just hit those of us making the points. So you will never see anything from them beyond what you see above. They call names, they cast aspersions, they impugn motives, but they have nothing for the actual points. Interesting don't you think?

So yes I think the Timberjay should have reported the cover letter and permit at the time they reported the cubbies. So sue me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 | Report this

Sunday, January 20, 2013 | Report this

Well, well. There is that bear with a bounty Facebook page making a plug for itself again to get new "followers." Looks to be the Only reason they make public comments on newspaper and television news station websites. Wondering if Bab Jaeger and clm1117 is clm talking to himself once again via one of the MANY phony Facebook/ Internet identities he has created and used on numerous Facebook pages - more than one where is talking to himself. Scary. I'd reckon to say there is a multiple personality problem going on there, kinda like Sybil. Never know which personality is going to rear it's ugly head. Oh, and about those "Facts are Facts'" - whatever supposed "facts" were presented by Bab Jaeger, are not really TRUE "facts". They are only the Facebook page's Administrator's personal twist on the Truth. Amazing how some people can take information and FACTS and turn them into something unrecognizable.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 | Report this

Another in a long line of bitter people impugning motives, casting aspersions, calling names, but not sticking up for Rogers. Sad really.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 | Report this
hard rock miner

I think Mr.Rogers has done great work. Wild animals get habituated to people over time everywhere they/ we live. What I don't understand is why we put up with a state agency beholding to all residents of MN. but biased towards only those that want to kill our wildlife, by paying a few bucks. Allowing cranes and doves to be shot, wolf hunting and Trapping (80% of state residents are opposed),and bear hunting are amoung the most vile. The fact that they can't count deer, still want to allow a moose hunt even though their numbers are rapidly decreasing, and most recently they had to cut the walleye take in half on Mille Lacs due to over fishing and repeatedly allowing netting during the spawn. Do Nothing Right!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 | Report this