This week I learned of the death of an old acquaintance. Mink, a Black Bear whom I’ve photographed numerous times with numerous batches of cubs, was found dead on the banks of a river in New Hampshire, close to where she had lived for many years. If you’ve read my children’s book, Yodel the Yearling, you’ve met one of her offspring.
Mink was an extraordinary mother — sending her cubs up a giant White Pine tree whenever danger threatened, tolerating with unbelievable patience being climbed on and bitten by her cubs, grooming burs out of the coats of rambunctious offspring with her teeth and much, much more. She was so acclimated to people (having raised many cubs within sight of houses) she allowed me to witness her nursing her cubs multiple times (see NC post, 4/4/18).
Four years ago I stumbled upon Mink and her three yearling cubs sleeping at the base of a “baby sitter” tree. Since then they have had a life of turmoil, having been transported to the wilds of northern New Hampshire due to becoming “pests” where they lived because people left their garbage and bird feeders accessible during times of the year when bears are active. Mink managed to find her way back to her home territory and was raising the three young cubs she bore last winter when she met her untimely death, most likely as a result of being hit by a car. I couldn’t let her passing go by without a nod to her and the richness she added to so many peoples’ lives. I, for one, shall forever be indebted to her for tolerating my presence and allowing me to observe and photograph ursine behavior in the wild so few are privileged to see. (Photo: Mink & one of her three cubs, taken 4/24/20, soon after emerging from winter natal den)