Naming Bears


<%image(20081102-harrisbears1.jpg|300|225|Bear Cubs with Pete Harris)%>

    A local Grand Marais man shared a great story with me about bears and he said I could share it with you.  Pete Harris volunteered with the DNR’s Bear Research team out of Grand Rapids, MN for about 15 years. During the winters he would visit bear dens and get to handle tiny bear cubs. 

     "When doing a cub den the mother would be tranquilized, then the cubs would be taken from the den and would have to be kept inside your jacket or shirt to keep them warm while the mother was removed for measurements and collar adjustment. The cubs would be weighed, a hair sample taken and some measurements taken. Ear tags would be the last thing done before they would be put back into the den."

    "I first got involved when one of the study bears denned on our property in 1989-90 and had cubs. The study bears all had numbers but we also got to name the 4 year old female " Elizabeth " after our daughter. In a later year she adopted one of her mother’s cubs when the mother was shot during the hunting season. So that winter she had her 3 cubs plus the adopted one and herself. When we checked them that winter it was hard to figure out how they all fit into the den and how to tranquilize all of them before removing them for testing but it got done. 



 Pete explained how Elizabeth became notorious during her life and was even written up in the Minneapolis paper. She taught her cubs bad manners and most did not survive on their own.  One bear cub did survive and Pete named her Becca after his granddaughter.

     Here is a letter Pete wrote to Becca talking about Becca the bear.


"Hi Becca: Friday I went with the DNR to see how Becca bear was doing. She was denned up about 1/2 mile north of where she slept a year ago. It was in an area that had been logged a few years ago and had grown up into aspen about 3" in diameter. The area had a few kettle holes (caused by ice melting after the glaciers retreated a long time ago. She had just dug out a den on the side of the hill on one of them. She had 3 cubs this winter and all were males. They were big and healthy, the biggest weighed 6# 9 oz, the middle bear was 6# 4 oz, and the smallest was 5# 8 oz, so even the "runt" was pretty good sized. The only thing that was sad was that Becca bear had grown so fat last summer that her collar got too tight and her neck was pretty sore. There was a doctor from the U of M along to do some ultra scans and EKG stuff on her and he put in some sutures to close the sore up so she should be okay when she comes out of her den in a few weeks. Last winter she weighed 176#’s and this time after having cubs she weighed 220#’s!! That was the biggest she has ever weighed in her 6 years as your namesake so she must have been a really fat bear when she went into her den late last September. We’ll see if she can stay out of trouble this summer and avoid the hunters next fall and take care of her cubs at the same time. That will be a pretty tall order for her. Love, Grandpa 

     Thanks for sharing Pete!