Visit to Bears Lily and Hope

By KBJR News 1

October 11, 2010 Updated Oct 15, 2010 at 7:28 AM CDT

Ely, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Black bears in the northwoods are beginning to slow down, getting ready to hibernate for the winter.

In this week's Nature Matters David Hoole got the chance to check in on two of the most famous bears in the area - Lily and Hope.

"Its me bear."

Bear Biologist Dr. Lynn Rogers is making a stop to check on two of his research bears near Ely. One is the yearling Hope, whose birth, last winter, was watched live on the Internet .

On this day Lily, Hope's mom needs her tracking collar changed.

"The zipper is stuck" .

For years, study bears have worn radio collars but this is the first season the bears have worn GPS transmitters.

"It used to be that we'd have to radio track bears from an airplane or a vehicle or whatever and we'd be lucky if we got one location per day. Now we get a location sent to our computer every 10 minutes from this device."

During the visit both bears get a treat while Dr. Rogers changes out the collar, several handfuls of nuts go a long way to buy the patience of the bears.

"If I didn't have her trust I would need to have trapped and tranquilized her to change her collar."

It's the trust developed over several years that allows Rogers to put the collar on the bear, yet she still needs to check it out. (nat you want to smell it? OK) Something extra is added to the collar once it's attached.

"These ribbons are used to keep the bears safe it's still hunting season."

Rogers has been petitioning the DNR to protect research bears during hunting season. He has lost two collared bears this fall and says the fatalities really harm research.

"With the value of these bears economically around the area, to education around the world, and to science especially, these bears need protection from hunters."

New collar attached complete with ribbons for protection, Lily is ready to keep offering a view into the world of the black bears.

"The nice thing about it is the world can learn along with us they can form their own opinions, make their own conclusions and we're all learning together."

Near Ely, I'm David Hoole for Nature Matters.

The bear researchers are working to install another den-cam in Lily and Hope's winter den.

The two bears are expected to hibernate together and Lily will likely give birth again this winter.

To learn more about black bears visit the North American Bear Center's Website at
www.bear.org.