Researcher: Hope, famed Internet bear, is dead
Wednesday, September 28 2011 @ 10:09 AM EDT
Contributed by: jkr
By STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A black bear who became a worldwide star when her birth was broadcast over the Internet is presumed dead after a hunter came forward to report that he had shot the animal without knowing it was her, a researcher said Tuesday.
Researchers last saw the yearling bear named Hope on Sept. 14. Lynn Rogers, senior researcher at the North American Bear Center and its affiliated Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, said he was contacted Tuesday by a hunter who said he killed the bear when it came to his bait station alone on the evening Sept 16.
The hunter told Rogers he would not have deliberately shot Hope and didn't know she was the same bear. However, Rogers said the hunter also did not express remorse.
Rogers said he's confident the bear was Hope because every other female bear known to be in that area near Ely in northeastern Minnesota where Hope and her family roamed has been accounted for, including Hope's radio-collared mother, Lily, who at one point bedded down just 165 yards (150 meters) away from the bait site. Hope was not collared or otherwise marked or tagged.
Rogers declined to give the name of the hunter. He said he's discouraging verbal attacks on him and hunters in general because that won't help his center's research and education efforts. But he acknowledged that feelings have been running high since the center put out word a few days ago on Facebook that Hope was missing and likely dead.
"I've gotten calls today from several people who could hardly talk through their tears, but there's also a lot of anger. It's a highly emotional item for the Lily fans. We're just trying to figure out where we go from here. And we want to protect the hunter," Rogers said.
Lily and Hope became an Internet sensation two winters ago when the center installed a camera inside Lily's den and thousands of people watched live as she gave birth to Hope. Students at over 500 schools have been following Hope, Lily, and Lily's new cub, Faith, on the bear center's website and Facebook, Rogers said. Lily's Facebook page has about 134,000 fans.