By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

ELY (WCCO) — People around the world watched online as two Minnesota bear cubs were born in late January to the famous black bear Lily. Sadly, however, less than three months later, one of her cubs, Jason, has died.

Researchers at the North American Bear Center in Ely saw Jason take his last breaths Tuesday afternoon.

Director Dr. Lynn Rogers studied Jason and Faith through the Den Cam and through observation, and early on, says Jason appeared to be the weaker cub.

“He was a little slower in development, a little slower in getting coordination than his sister,” said Rogers.

He says Lily took her cubs to higher ground nearly a half of a mile away when melting snow recently flooded the den. Everyone enjoyed their new home, but Jason.

“Little Jason was just exhausted,” said Rogers. “We don’t know how he moved — if they carried him, dragged him, what they might have done.”

The bear family eventually left Jason behind, as he was too weak to help them search for food. Rogers says Jason appeared listless, but as researchers, their permits don’t allow them to intervene.

“When you see him struggling to live, your heart goes out to him, you think, I wish I could do something, but then you think of, we are here to do research,” said Dr. Rogers.

He says he could only watch Jason’s final moments Tuesday afternoon.

“He convulsed, he urinated, and breathed a few more times, and that was it, at 4:03 pm,” said Rogers. “What I think happened was he got so worn out from that trip where we saw him exhausted, he wasn’t able to get in there and nurse.”

Rogers posted the news on his website, where he says a quarter million people, including students at an estimated 500 schools, have followed the bears’ journey.

Rogers says he began a necropsy, or animal autopsy, to determine a cause of death as he usually does after a bear dies, when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stepped in to seize the bear and conduct their own necropsy. Minnesota DNR Communications Director Chris Niskanen called it their standard procedure during a wildlife death investigation.

Niskanen says Rogers can get what is known as a salvage permit to get the bear back for more studies after the DNR investigation is complete, within a few weeks.

However, Rogers said that in his 42 years of research, the DNR has never interrupted his animal autopsies. He calls it a delay in the process and an interference with science.

“Every time, if a bear dies and you want to find out why, you call the game warden to say that the bear died, you proceed with the autopsy, you get some information, and it all helps science,” said Rogers. “We are doing the best we can to find out exactly why Jason died, and it will help understand bears and the challenges they face a little better. We are doing to get to that as soon as the DNR lets us.”

Rogers posted video of the remaining family members — Lily, Hope, and Faith — at their new home Tuesday, the day Jason died.

Comments (34)
  1. St Paul says:

    Rest in peace dear boy.

  2. Jill Wheaton Lindsey says:

    I don’t know where you received your information about this bear cub’s death, but as a responsible news reporter you need to do your research. Jason was NOT found dead, he died in the presence of the researchers as they sadly watched him take his last breath. Please try in the future to get your information correct before posting a national new report. bearstudy. org will be your best resources for the truth.

    1. Jill Lindsey says:

      You re-wrote this article. This is NOT the article that you reported initially. At least you did some homework before you printed it again.

    2. Whatever says:

      Where does it say he was found dead? It says they watched him take his last breath…BTW spell check…its news report not new

      1. Jill Wheaton Lindsey says:

        This idiot re-wrote the initial article. I read it and it said that Jason was “found” dead and that was NOT the truth nor the facts. I referred him/her to and for facts. Now it is re-written. He/she must think we are stupid.

        1. Amanda says:

          Sure, sure… you were the only one that read the “original” report, I watched the news last night and he said it loud and clear, that the director watched him died… please stop criticizing the news

          1. Karen says:

            If you believe everything you read or hear on the news, then pity on you. She or he has every right to their freedom of speech, just as you do.

  3. Jill Wheaton Lindsey says:

    Here is the initial headline for this report:
    Jason The Bear Found Dead
    A bear cub that became a web sensation when it was born live on camera has been found dead. News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Minnesota

  4. Ron Earley says:

    There is alot to be said here, my main concern is the little guy, okay, i understand your research, however, leave the little guy to die,…..I dont think so, and u watched his last breath, his last urination, please pick him up, he was not dead yet………u could have helped him

    1. Lisa Jones says:

      I feel exactly the same as you, he was so worn out and must have felt so frightened for the days he was on his own and the snowmobile couldnt get back to him. The permit doesnt allow them to intervene however I hope he was maybe cuddled whilst he passed away.

    2. shdutchess says:

      I have watched these bears since Hope was born. I agree Ron, the cub Jason should not have been left alone all night the day before he passed away, especially with GPS knowing the mother was not coming back for him. It was just cruel to leave that cub out there by himself. Mother Nature is cruel, but who of us would walk away and leave that cub in that condition? I could not do that and cannot follow the NABC any longer. Let the people that agree stay with NABC. To each his own.

  5. Gloria Baenen says:

    i am going to comment here, What i have been reading is that they wanted to pick him up and bring him, But the MN DNR is making studies so hard for Doctor, Rogers now, The DNR hold the permits that the bear center needs to collar these bears and research them, If Doctor Rogers does anything they do not like they will pull the permit from him, noted him saying in his 42 years of research, the DNR has never interrupted his animal autopsies. I am very very upset they could not save him, I as a regular nobody could and would have went there and got this cub and brought it somewhere BUT because it was a member of the research team, they could not, their hands were tied, I am going to put the blame on the DNR, they have been horrible to this research center the last year, I think they are tying to do anything to shut him down, Do i believe in research YES, i enjoyed the cams but do not know if they should be there for all of us to see, we get an emotional attachment to the wild animals that way. But again there are live feeds out for every kind of animal so why not let Doctor Rodgers do the same, He does good for the welfare of these bears and I have learned so much from this, I am heartbroken that they could not save this poor cub, as I know they are too, But it was in the DNR hands, And I can not believe that the DNR went and took the cub away from the vet, and is saying they will do the necropsy, or animal autopsy, there goes you tax payers money Minnesota,,,,, Such a shame the DNR can not work with someone who is trying to do so much good,

  6. JLD says:

    RIP Little Jason.

  7. MsSmith says:

    DNR -doesn’t that stand for Do Not Resussitate?

  8. Kerry Mahoney says:

    It is hard to wrap my mind around the DNR and their thinking….I cannot appreciate or grasp their motives. Who does it hurt most? The bears. What a shame.

  9. Dee Votes says:

    ET call home?? The DNR in Minnesota appear to be a small minded group who feel a sense of power they don’t deserve, and is not warranted. How many dead bears have they traveled at daybreak like Gestapo to remove from their “home” before Jason? What is wrong with these little men? They have no respect for a gentle BIG man who dedicated his life to science and research, and no appreciation for the millions of dollars in currency, income and goodwill these few bears have brought to MN. They will singlehandedly send the generosity and kind-heatedness of Lily fans in other directions. They serve no one but themselves. How short-sighted and frankly, unintelligent these little people are.
    Vote Minnesota, for people who govern for your benefit, not their own. AMERICA, “by the people, for the people.” Is Minnesota still part of it?
    This is Jason’s purpose and legacy.

    1. mark howells says:

      i agree some people want to be somebody when if fact they are nobody….

  10. John Benson says:

    Looks like Jill Lindsey has a stick up her butt about something. Settle down and get a life. 4 posts saying the same thing and 3 in 7 minutes? haha, loser.

  11. Up North says:

    No where in the article does it say that the DNR took the bear away before its death. Nor did they impede the researchers from helping. The researchers chose not to help because they did not want to intervene in a natural course of events is my guess. Sad for the cub but don’t blame the DNR.

  12. Up North says:

    I do see their permits limited their intervention but Dr. Rogers also alludes to the fact that in research as tough as it is sometimes you’re just a spectator.
    Either way, a bummer.

  13. JamieinMN says:

    It has to be extremely difficult to watch a living thing die right in front of your eyes, and to know you cannot do anything to help it 🙁

  14. l says:

    in the wild the bear cub would have died. if we had not been tracking him we would have never known. it saddens me that we couldnt do something for the cub. dnr or no dnr, i dont understand why the cub couldnt have been rescued. what benefit does the dnr or researchers get from its death. nothing.

    1. JamieinMN says:

      Because they’re there to strictly observe and research. If they had touched that cub, it would’ve been covered with their scent and being as it was weak already, the momma bear would’ve abandoned it and we would have to bring yet ANOTHER animal into captivity.

  15. K. Locey says:

    John Benson, that was just unkind to remark about Jill Lindsey. She was just upset because she is passionate about all animals and especially these research bears.

    As far as her getting a life because she posted something, you posted somethng, I am posting something etc. Should you get a life? Me? Her life IS about animals.

    Don’t be mean. It only makes YOU look foolish.

  16. Valerie says:

    I know the researchers have rules about intervening but still want to call those guys – heartless rats for not helping the bear.

  17. James says:

    The DNR has returned the bear cubs body, and the researchers are getting it mounted at the taxidermist right now.

    1. Lisa Jones says:

      when I first read that I thought you were joking however Ive read that Jaons body has been returned and this is what they intend to do. This makes me so sad, why cant his ashes be scattered in the wilderness?

  18. Lisa Jones says:

    Lynn wrote in an article that he thought of contacting someone who could take Jason in but it was 3 hrs away and according to the signal from Lily she seemed tp be heading back towards Jason. He was concerned if he moved Jason what would Lily do when she saw her cub had gone. Its so sad, Jason was so lonely and weak in hos last couple of days, he never really had the get up and go that Faith showed, he seemed to be the weaker of the 2 from the word go. RIP little man, 81 days old, so sad x

  19. Doug says:


  20. Mandy Rice says:

    If these researchers have their permits for tracking and researching these bears a LOT more black bears will die. While it breaks my heart and I am beyond words about his sad end, the foundation can not go against the rules of the state of minnesota. If anyone is cruel or sick it is the state who’s tying the hands of these well meaning individuals who devote their lives to the black bears of minnesota.

    If you’re so upset about what happened I suggest you stop attacking the foundation that supports and loves these creatures and spend that time contacting minnesota government about the way that the DNR is treating and tying the hands of the people working to protect and research these beautiful animals.

  21. Carolyn Watson says:

    The whole situation was very sad:(

  22. Lily Fan says:

    It was devastating to the research team.

  23. Lily Fan says:

    Pay no attention to Jill Wheaton Lindsey, that ‘stick’ has been there a long long time, she likes to feel that she is of some importance in the NABC organization, when really she only criticized and accused this same organization of taking money from the fans under false pretenses, she has no business commenting on any posts with regards to what is true and what is not, she is spiteful, and deceitful, and in no way should be taken seriously, she should be taken to the nearest psyche ward

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