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Bear's sister to give birth; cameras will capture it online

DULUTH — The cub watch is on again.

A bear named Jewel appears to be within days of giving birth in front of a worldwide audience via the Internet, a release from the Ely-based North American Bear Center said.

Jewel, a 3-year-old, is the sister of Lily, the bear whose cubs were born in front of den cameras the past two winters.

"Jewel is showing all the signs of preparing to give birth as her older sister Lily did," said Lynn Rogers, senior biologist at the Wildlife Research Institute. "The den cam video is showing her active and raking in bedding. It could be any day."

The buzz already has started on Lily the Bear's Facebook page.


"She sure was acting as though she was in early labor this morning," Dixie Thompson Senft wrote. "Jewel looks so much like another bear I adore that I am falling for her, a lot, bless her."

Laurie Athmann wrote: "This is exciting with Jewel getting so close! It'll be SO good to hear cubbie sounds again!!"

As the excitement grew online, Rogers was on the air, being interviewed Saturday evening on the live "Prairie Home Companion" show on public radio.

The camera in Jewel's den is one of three in the Ely area. Lily is again on camera with her yearling Faith, and another web camera shows Ted, Lucky and Honey, who are captive bears at the North American Bear Center.

Thousands of people watched on the Internet as Lily gave birth to a cub named Hope on Jan. 22, 2010. Lily followed up last winter, giving birth to cubs Jason and Faith. Jason died in April 2011, and Hope was shot by a hunter on Sept. 16.

The bear center touts the den cams as a research tool offering scientists a much more comprehensive view of the lives of hibernating bears than has been available in the past. Along with the thousands of informal viewers, an official Den-Watch Team keeps standardized data on the bears 24 hours a day to create scientific publications, the news release said.

Rogers' research methods have received mixed reviews from other scientists.

Stephen Herrero, a bear expert from Alberta, Canada, wrote in a 2008 report to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that Rogers' request for a bear study permit was "not a traditional research project. It does not clearly identify specific research questions and the methods by which the questions will be studied."


Still, he noted that Rogers and his research team, by maintaining close contact with bears, were "contributing to a more nuanced, finer-scale understanding of black bear behavior and ecology."

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