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Yearly Updates

2005 Fall Update - Part I - Status of research bears



Shadow is the 15-year-old matriarch of the Eagle's Nest study bears.  Although she was not a frequent visitor to the field station this summer, she did bring her cubs in several times between Aug 10 and Sept 3 and on at least one occasion (Aug 22) left them there unattended.  She moved west to the area she spent most of June and July in before moving again to settle into her denning area in the remote southwestern portion of her territory about Sept 30.


Eight-year-old Blackheart's last visit to the field station was Aug 27.  On Sept 1 she moved to an area where she had denned in the past in the heart of her territory.  On Sept 4 - during the first weekend of the bear hunt - her signal disappeared from the study area.  While we have no confirmation of her death, a bait station was found near where she had been located the previous 3 days and 3 flights over the area since have not picked up her signal.  As a pregnant female she likely would have denned early. 


Six-year-old RC was a regular visitor to the field station with her last visit on Sept 1.  She headed west into her territory where she wandered for several days before finally settling into the area she habitually dens in on Sept 11.  RC moved off to den early and we expect she will have cubs this winter.


Five-year-old Dot does not visit the field station but frequents a home in the eastern part of the study area where she is fed.  After regular visits to this home she and her 3 cubs moved out on Oct 7.  They were found in a dug den on Oct 20 about half a mile from last year's den


Five-year-old Donna's last visit to the field station was Aug 23.  She and her 2 cubs moved east into her territory and by Sept 21 had settled in a remote area where she appears to be denning.  On Oct 1, concerned by her inactive signal, I walked in on her but stopped when I got close and her signal became active.  On the way in I found extensive feeding on winterberry and a scat full of winterberry seeds.


Four-year-old Hazel and her 3 cubs visited the field station on Sept 5 then headed west into remote areas of her territory where they spent nearly 3 weeks - including 6 days between Stuntz Bay and Mattson Bay on Lake Vermillion - before returning to the field station on Sept 25.  The family moved out again on Oct 3 and settled into their denning area Oct 7 on the far western edge of Hazel's territory just north of Rte 169.


After 4-year-old June's return from her sojourn to the Boundary Waters the third week of September she settled into a cedar/black ash swamp and seemed to barely change bed sites.  She and her 2 cubs continued to frequent the homes were they are fed but their daily activities were confined to the swamp with its multiple beds sites.  On the evening of Oct 5 she headed west and we hoped she would den.  The next morning she was found just over a mile away - bedded among thick cedars.  Scats collected from June and George that day contained hair and bone chips indicating they had likely been feeding on a carcass.  On Oct 7 she was back in her previous bedding area where she remained until Oct 23 when her signal disappeared again.  After a ground search for her signal Lynn Rogers flew in search of her.  Much to his surprise he found her signal very close to her last known location.  After a more intense ground search he found her denned in a buried metal tank a mere quarter mile from the homes she frequents.  The metal tank and the rocky outcrop nearby had effectively blocked her signal from most directions - but the hole in the top of the tank had allowed a strong signal to be heard from above.


Although the majority of 3-year-old Braveheart's territory is north of Rte 169 she was a regular visitor to the field station.  Between May 17 and Oct 12 she spent 8 periods of from 1-17 days south of the highway - with alternate periods of 1-27 days north of the highway.  When she headed north on Oct 02 after 17 consecutive daily visits to the field station we felt she was going off to den, but on Oct 7 she came back for another 5 days.  On her next trip north on or about Oct 15 her largest male cub was hit by a vehicle and killed.  After some subsequent movements that appeared fairly erratic, Braveheart and her remaining 2 cubs settled in the far northeast corner of her territory on or about Oct 23.


Two-year-old Juliet was a regular visitor to the field station for most of the summer - sort of our resident bear.  She left and headed back for her territory south of Soudan on Sept 1 - the first day of the bear hunt.  I located her that day partway back to her territory in an area of known bear baiting.  I was relieved to find her signal the next day in her territory.  However, when I heard an inactive signal on Sept 4, I became concerned she may have been injured.  On Sept 5 I walked in on her signal with some trepidation, not knowing what I would find.  I was relieved to find her radio-collar at the base of a small red pine marking tree.  Because she headed off to den early we suspect she is pregnant.  We won't be able to do a den visit this winter to check for cubs - but we are hopeful she is fine and will return next spring to be re-collared. 


Yearling Sunshine spent the first 2 weeks after ‘family breakup' within her mother Blackheart's territory - as is common for yearling offspring - then vanished for 5 days before returning.  As we monitored her movements over the course of the summer we found she was frequenting an area near the southwest corner of Burntside Lake and we suspect this is where she had been those 5 days.  Sunshine seems to have established a territory far outside her mother's territory.  She moved fairly quickly between the area around field station and her territory near Burntside and was seldom located between two.  She moved to this area on Oct 6 and we expect she is denning there.


Yearling Solo remained within her mother Blackheart's territory and became a frequent visitor to the field station.  Because Solo is missing her right ear we have a hard time keeping a collar on her.  She lost her collar 5 times after Aug 20.  Twice her collar was found at the base of a utility pole - worked off in the process of marking the pole.  Fortunately we were able to get another collar on her fairly quickly each time she slipped one.  Assuming Blackheart has been killed, Solo is well poised to take over her territory.  She has remained active far into the fall but seems to be settling in on the north side of Eagles Nest Lake 3.