Bear expert says Hope's death is blow to research

Lily and Hope
Lily the bear and her cub Hope are reunited.
North American Bear Center

A biologist says the death of a black bear is a blow to his research and to the northern Minnesota bear center that streamed her birth live on the Internet two years ago.

Lynn Rogers, founder of the North American Bear Center in Ely, told The Associated Press he was looking forward to documenting the dynamics of Hope's family as she matured. When he announced this week that a hunter had killed Hope, it generated an outpouring of grief and outrage among the more than 133,000 fans that follow Hope and her mother Lily on Facebook.

Rogers has lost study bears to hunters before, but he said researchers had never before been able to follow a mixed-age bear family so closely, and that what they saw defied their expectations. Hope continued to nurse even after Lily gave birth last winter to two new cubs. While one soon died, Lily, Hope and the surviving cub, Faith, continued to roam together until a hunter shot Hope on Sept. 16.

"There was peace," Rogers said of the family. Hope didn't try to dominate Faith or steal all of Lily's milk. Hope even acted like a second mother, he said, waiting for Faith to catch up when she straggled behind.

If Hope had survived, Rogers said, they might have gotten the chance to watch the family break up next spring. Hope would have been old enough to go into heat, so she and Lily would have had to compete for mates, and all three would have competed for territory, he said.

--- Hope and Lily on Facebook
The North American Bear Center

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