Planet Earth Live Blog: Black Bears in Minnesota

As part of our Planet Earth Live global event, here’s an exclusive post from Nia Roberts, Researcher. Nia is in Northwoods, Minnesota filming black bears and also producing half of the live show on location.

Nia Roberts on location in Minnesota

As we left base I was filled with excitement and a little nervousness – this was to be the day I was going to meet Juliet the Black Bear!

We arrived at the edge of the woods, which is home to Juliet and her three cubs Sam, Sybil and Sophie.

As we stepped into the trees with Dr Lynn Rogers as our guide, it felt very much like being in the woods back home in the UK except the group of Jays flying overhead instead of being pinkish brown were bright sapphire blue. The raucous group consisted of the parent birds and their fledglings; the young jays will stay with their parents until the onset of winter.

Two black bear cubs climbing a tree. Photo from Planet Earth Live team in Minnesota, USA.

After around 15 minutes of following Lynn through the thick woods he stopped and said the famous words ‘It’s me bear’ in his soft, soothing voice and pointed a little way ahead.

At first I couldn’t see anything but vegetation and thought Juliet must be over the other side of the hill but slowly I saw a dark shadow that was furry! Juliet was curled up in a day bed at the bottom of a White Pine tree (the favourite of Black Bears).

Over the next five minutes we quietly crept closer trying not to startle the bear and eventually we came to settle quite close. Juliet paid no attention to us as she carried out her usual greeting with Lynn and then settled back into bear life. This is when Sam, Sybil and Sophie three tiny cubs (that look just like teddy bears and are about the same size) started to play. Playtime consisted of chewing twigs, play fighting with each other, digging and using Juliet as a climbing frame.

Knowing these characters and the relationship Lynn has with the bears, does not take away the thrill, nerves and excitement of being in their presence. We sat with them a while until Juliet decided that that it was lunchtime and moved off to feed. One by one the three little cubs disappeared after her.

Walking back through the woods to the car I couldn’t help but feel that it hadn’t been real, we had just sat with a wild animal that tolerated our presence and completely ignored us. We were lucky enough to get a glimpse of Bear life in the Northwoods.

(pictures of Juliet and family to come)

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About Annisa Muchtar

Online Communications at BBC Worldwide: I manage our blogs and help guest bloggers contribute on this space.
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