It is with a lot of emotion and sadness that I went through the day after I have learned of Hope's death today on 29 September.
Hope together with Lily, her wonderful mom...
And in 2010 as big sister with little Faith...
Hope, her little sister Faith and Lily in June 2011
About three weeks ago I missed on Mauritius Broadcast 98 % of the BBC Bearwalker documentary featuring the work and the bears of the North American Bear Center of Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield in Ely, I just came in time to see the incredible scene with Lynn Rogers taking June's heart beat, so close, so gentle and June so allowing and full of trust that it brought tears into my eyes. Three days later by pure coincidence I turned on the TV for BBC News and the channel which came first showed again the documentary, this time I must have missed the first half, but coming in time to see the preparations of the researchers to prepare the research bears for the coming hunting season and to alert alert the hunters of their presence. But in vain, some of the precious bears as two of the Three Amigos were shot. I remember how I thought, how lucky Lily and Hope had been last year and that I prayed that they and the others would be spared this season too, collared or non-collared ones, with or without ribbons...
Hope was shot on 16 September and it took some days for the research team to establish this sad fact.
Lily and Hope with ribbons on 30.08.2010
"Hope wasn't wearing a radio collar when she was shot, so the hunter had no way to identify her. Such collars broadcast an animal's position via GPS.
Rogers made dozens of attempts to outfit the animal with a collar, succeeding four times. "But each time she took it off,'' he said.
A onetime U.S. Forest Service researcher, Rogers is director of the North American Bear Center outside Ely and head of the Wildlife Research Institute near that town.
Unlike other bear researchers, Rogers doesn't tranquilize animals to fit them with radio collars. Instead he habituates the ones he can, training them to trust him as he approaches the animals in the wild." (source)
More about the Black Bear Research Project can be found on the project's web site and on the daily update notes discussed on facebook. Hope's death with feelings running high and hot, has caused also some ugly discussions, putting the entire research at risk. Lynn Rogers has spent many years to establish relationships with hunters with a potential of mutual respect, although it is hard for us, not in the field, to imagine working under the condition of regular bear hunt especially when opposed to hunting bears in general. That is why I won't discuss this topic now, I just want to express my concern, my hope that the research will continue, that Hope's, Sarah's, Cal's and other deaths have not been in vain...Although it doesn't make the loss of Hope less tragic, maybe it is comforting a little to recall that in Minnesota, black bears could be shot on sight until 1971. Lynn Rogers helped to redraft Minnesota’s bear hunting regulations, reducing the 52- week season to six weeks and creating rules to minimise wounding...This work has to continue.
Learning from the bears what are bear necessities is still important, more than ever!
RIP, little big Hope!
Links and photo credits and more about the facts:
- Facts & Feelings
- Hope , Hunting and the Media
- Hope collared 75 minutes and counting/facebook Notes 03.09.2011
- Anderson: Hunter gives take on death of famed bear/Star Tribune 03.10.2011
- September 2010 (with lots of references about the hunting season) / Discussion on flickr
- Hope's Big Adventure - A story written by the "Lily the Black Bear" community on facebook
- Discussing a Tribute to Hope Bear on flickr discussing Lily the North American Black Bear, Hope, Faith, Jason ...
- Hope's Rainbow Residency with lots of pics too
Hope on the K-files:
- Hope for Hope the little black bear cub/26.05.2010
- Breaking News...Hope has been found!/27.05.2010
- Lily and Hope...-Reunited...The details!/28.05.2010