National Park Service
The sight before me is entrancing - a mother Black Bear, her year-old cub, and two one-month-old "cubbies" all snuggled into their winter den snoozing, playing, and grooming each other peacefully somewhere in the wilds of Minnesota. The yearling grunts, the babies squeal, and the mother gently lifts them to her chest. I look forward to seeing them venture out of the den in the coming weeks. Whoever heard of such a thing?! But in this day of technology, indeed, nearly anything is possible.
And in this day of the internet, more and more possibilities are opening up to us. The question is, however, just which of these - and how much - should we partake of? To many of us now, the computer, I-pod, cell phone, Kindle, and other gadgets take increasingly bigger bites of our time and never seem to be full. It truly can boggle the mind...
Social Networking has wormed its way into our lives in ways we never imagined only a few short years ago. I must admit, there are parts of this that I find intriguing. Used with care, and proper precautions, it is now possible to easily stay in touch with friends you seldom see and family members who live far away. Sharing photographs and instant messages can be big positives if mutually agreed upon by those involved. Like anything else, common sense - and courtesy - should prevail. Limiting the time spent on-line as well as engaging in other non-technological activities is equally important.
American Black Bear by HBarrison
But it was through a friend's sharing on just such a site that I discovered Lily the Black Bear. Lily, and her yearling cub, Hope, are two of the subjects of study by the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. According to their web site: The mission of the non-profit North American Bear Center is to advance the long-term survival of bears worldwide by replacing misconceptions with scientific facts about bears, their role in ecosystems, and their relations with humans. All eight bear species around the world are now listed as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered in all or portions of their ranges. Remote habitats that once insured isolation and protection are now being occupied by people, and the attitudes of these people will determine the future of those populations of bears.
Photo by Alan Vernon
And so these dedicated people study bears - and share what they learn. Lily is one of these; she is a wild Black Bear and they have traced her lineage back over 20 years. Last winter she gave birth to little Hope and their story became something of a phenomenon as Lily deserted her during the summer, they met and parted again, then met and reconciled to never again leave each other. All of this was followed, in print and on video, by millions of people. Denning together through the rugged northern winter, Lily again gave birth - this time to a pair of cubs. A live den camera was unobtrusively installed in the den last fall, so these bears are constantly observed and studied. What is being learned about these wonderful animals is truly priceless and offers much hope for their future.
By the way, if you would like to learn more about Lily and her kind, you will find her on Facebook!
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge;
the ears of the wise seek it out.
To learn more about the North American Bear Center:
All picture files from Wikimedia Commons