Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bait and Shoot

mother bear~ Lily
Hope as a cub in 2010
Hope and baby bear sister, Faith~ July 2011

Lily the black bear, of Ely, Minnesota, has been a facebook sensation since January of 2010 when she gave birth to a single female cub. The cub was named Hope, and along with Lily, she became a part of the North American Bear Center's scientific research. Lily and Hope had a camera placed in the entrance to their den until they emerged from hibernation in the spring of 2010. 24 hour viewing and daily facebook page updates on how they were doing made them beloved by thousands...over 132,000 on facebook alone. Incredible amounts of information about the gentle nature of black bears was gleaned.

Winter 2011 found Hope denning once again with her mother, Lily. A den camera was in place to observe Lily giving birth to twin cubs and the subsequent family relations between mother bear, juvenile and new cubs. It was awe inspiring. Elementary schools around America followed the adventures of the 4 black bears, learning about wildlife in a manner previously unavailable. The male cub died, but the female cub, Faith, survived and thrived. Lily and her girls have been teaching a great number of us that the ferocious black bear stereotype is false; that they are gentle, shy creatures with strong family bonds.

Along with my friend, Lisa, I have been watching the winter den cameras, checking the spring, summer and fall videos of the bears and reading the daily updates on facebook. We have the Lily and Hope t-shirts and mugs to prove it. Silly or not, these bears have become a part of our lives.

It was confirmed today that Hope was baited and shot on September 16th by a hunter who set up his bait station in Lily's territory, knowing it was her territory, knowing her family's popularity and importance to scientific research. Hope is dead. And she will be eaten.

I am angry and I am crying.

{Bear photos are from www.bear.org.}

 On September 28th, an update from the facebook page for Lily The Black Bear read:

Lily did something during the night that moved us to tears.  She went on a tear, moving miles in such a short time that she must have been running most of the time.  She covered much of her territory and beyond before returning to her starting place where she probably had left Faith.  We have never seen anything like this before.  The only explanation we can think of is the obvious one, given recent circumstances.  What must be going through her mind?  We wish we had been there to see it in person—to see if she was grunting and tongue-clicking as mothers do when they look for lost cubs.  Lily had spent an unusually long time mothering Hope.  Was this a last search before she gives up and settles into a den?  Although we questioned whether the GPS locations were possible, they followed in a line that was not erratic. 


  1. Oh no! How horrible and tragic. I'm so sorry to hear this. I have heard of these bears, but I haven't been following them. Such a heartbreak that this dreadful cruelty has been allowed. Hugs to you, Graciel. :-(

  2. now i am crying. that just broke my heart.
    that should be illegal. isn't it?
    it doesn't matter, i know, she is gone.
    somehow, hope will live on.


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