"Yea, Hope is doing terrific! She's an only child, gets all the milk, gets all six nipples! So it's nice to see her develop like this."
Hope, the baby black bear is a healthy 14 week- old. She is out of her den, living in the backcountry, near Ely. Lead bear researcher Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center has been keeping track of the pair since mother and cub left their den on April first.
"At this stage of her life she's starting to already eat some foods in addition to milk and a big thing in her life is play."
"She would be playing with other cubs and little with mom. Being an only child she plays with mom and mom plays rough but little Hope comes right back for more."
On the day we went looking for Lily and Hope, Lily's tracking signal had disappeared. Rogers took us along as he looked for the bears to check on Lily's radio collar and GPS transmitter.
"Thank-you for not running! I see why you're not transmitting, your collar is upside down."
"Is it going to take two hands for me to fix it? Okay."
Lynn Rogers, the self described "old bearman" knows Lily very well. He says they're not friends but Lily definitely trusts him. His gentle demeanor and calming voice allows him to study the bears with closeness unusual in wildlife research.
"Okay, you eat those. Will you trade me a heart rate for a few pecans?"
"I know when she's calm, I know when she's on edge I know when touching her might make her react defensively or when she's just calm and there's no problem what so ever ... like today."
"...83..Okay where is little Hope? ... There's the little ball of fur!"
He has known many of his research bears since they were born. There is mutual trust and that is good not just for "The old bearman's" health but good for the bear species as well.
"I found they are not the ferocious animals we once thought that they're basically gentler and timid, and we could talk about what in their evolution led to that but that's how they turned out and thank goodness, because it helps them co-exist with people."
In bear country, I'm David Hoole for nature matters.
We will continue to follow Little Hope and Mama Lily as they grow.
*You* can follow the bears as well by reading research updates:
North American Bear Center: