Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s concern that Hope, one of the world’s most famous black bears, may be dead in northern Minnesota.
Hope’s mother, Lily, became an Internet sensation when a camera in her den captured Hope’s birth in January of 2010. But Hope disappeared more than a week ago, and there’s been no sign of her since.
Hope, her mother and her sister, Faith, are a part of a long term study of black bears at the North American Bear Center near Ely, Minn.
The family of three has been inseparable, that’s why biologist Lyn Rogers wasn’t too concerned that Hope would find ways to take off her radio collar.
“We couldn’t keep one on her, but we hoped with her being with Lilly and Faith that [the hunters] would have mercy,” Roger said.
The last time Hope was seen with her family was on Sept.14 at 7:05 p.m. In the location where she was last seen, Rogers said a hunter had put down bait in order to shoot bears.
“On the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth, Lily … and family were visiting that hunter’s bait, and then the next time we saw them, it was just Lilly and Faith,” Rogers said.
Rogers fears Hope has been shot. He said it’s too much of a coincidence that Lily is missing after a hunter baited in the bear’s territory.
Rogers said he has been trying to reach the hunter who was baiting bears in the area, but he has not heard back.
The hunter told Rogers that he would not shoot a collard bear, Rogers said. But Hope was not wearing a collar, due to her always finding ways to take them off.
Even if Hope were wearing a collar, it is not illegal to shoot a collared research bear in Minnesota. However, the the Department of Natural Resources asks hunters not to shoot collard bears, because they are used for research.