An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

A Tribute To A Grande Dame

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)

45 responses

  1. vtbee

    Thank you, Mary. Beautifully said. RIP, Mink.

    August 28, 2020 at 8:06 am

  2. Diane

    A touching story, Thank you for sharing.

    August 28, 2020 at 8:06 am

  3. Rinky

    Hoping Ben Kilham will rescue the cubs if necessary.

    August 28, 2020 at 8:08 am

  4. Gretchen Gordon

    What a touching reflection. Thank you for writing about Mink, and I’m sorry for the absence she leaves for you and others who appreciated her. I hate thinking about whether or not this year’s cubs will survive without mom…very sad.

    August 28, 2020 at 8:11 am

  5. Lenita Robbins

    Mary, this death has caused so many of us to mourn. You and your camera brought Mink to close-up life and have shared those photos with your enthusiastic, caring following. I am glad you paid her life such tribute!

    I hope her three cubs can be/were rescued and can spend their motherless earl year or so with Ben. You two do such good in the world.

    A loving admirer,
    Lenita

    August 28, 2020 at 8:16 am

  6. Tanja

    How sad! Are her cubs old enough to survive without her?

    August 28, 2020 at 8:18 am

  7. What a beautiful obituary for a resident of the wild. Thank you for the heart-felt words!

    August 28, 2020 at 8:18 am

  8. libbet cone

    I am sending condolences to you and love to support you in the face of this loss. I share your grief(and anger at us human stupidity and selfishness).. An avid follower of your work, Libbet

    >

    August 28, 2020 at 8:21 am

  9. judilindsey

    Mary, Thank you for this moving tribute. It brought tears to my eyes. You mentioned how people leave feeders out – and a fed bear is a dead bear – or one that gets transported far from its home. I’m sure you will miss her. And as you said – she enriched your life beyond measure. My sympathies. To you, to her, to all the animals of this world. Love, Judi

    >

    August 28, 2020 at 8:27 am

  10. Evergreen Erb

    Such a beautiful picture, and sad story. I have always loved bears, and have been fortunate to see them fairly often most of my life (some here on our property, but mostly in the Adirondacks). Thank you for sharing your poignant story with all of us. I really look forward to you post every morning!

    August 28, 2020 at 8:43 am

  11. Alice

    That must have been so incredibly heartbreaking for you to hear about. It certainly seems that 2020 is filled with many unhappy events. Thankfully you were able to photograph what a wonderful Mommy bear, Mink was. Thank you for sharing with us. ❤️❤️

    August 28, 2020 at 8:48 am

  12. Deb

    I heard of Mink being found the other day after her tracking collar hadn’t moved for several days. It’s heartbreaking to hear that she was found to be deceased. We are blessed to live in her world and blessed to have been able to follow her journey.

    August 28, 2020 at 8:53 am

  13. Sam Rounds

    This is very sad. I hope her cubs are okay or that Ben finds them and helps them through the winter. Hopefully it was really an accident and not someone shooting her.

    August 28, 2020 at 8:56 am

  14. Rema Boscov

    This is such a very moving post. I am grieving. Thank you for sending this, and the remarkable photo.

    Rema

    >

    August 28, 2020 at 9:06 am

  15. Janet Andersen

    Very sad. I have enjoyed your stories and photos of her and her cubs.

    August 28, 2020 at 9:15 am

  16. Awh! Lovely Story! Beautiful Photograph! Hopefully if hit by a car someone knows something and can be held accountable! ❤

    August 28, 2020 at 9:37 am

  17. Ellen Baucom

    😢. I hope you know how much your posts are appreciated. Thank you for all that you do!

    Ellen Baucom

    >

    August 28, 2020 at 10:01 am

  18. Robin Worn

    Mary, what a sad story! I’d love a copy of this photo. Do you have prints for sale?

    With kind regards,

    Robin Worn Huntington

    >

    August 28, 2020 at 10:36 am

  19. Pam Jackson

    Mary, I commend you on your skills in observing the nature around us and sharing your discoveries with us. How old do you think Mink was?

    August 28, 2020 at 10:40 am

  20. SueJ

    I was so saddened to hear of her death. This was a lovely tribute.

    August 28, 2020 at 10:42 am

  21. Audrey Ball

    Thank you for the beautiful writing about Mink. I was saddened to learn of her death. My sympathies to you and others who knew her.

    August 28, 2020 at 10:52 am

  22. Martha Cochran

    That was a beautiful post and the photo tells it all. What a resilient mother! It made me weep.

    August 28, 2020 at 11:20 am

  23. mariagianferrari

    Thank you for sharing this. Rest in peace, dear Mink <3.

    August 28, 2020 at 11:33 am

  24. This is so sad. What a wonderful mother she was.

    August 28, 2020 at 11:36 am

  25. Jean Pace

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful creature. Thank you, Mary.

    August 28, 2020 at 11:45 am

  26. Kathryn

    Rest in Peace, Mink.

    August 28, 2020 at 11:51 am

  27. Doreen Morse

    What will happen to the cubs?

    August 28, 2020 at 12:36 pm

  28. Leslie English

    how very sad. I wish Mink and cubs could have been left in peace, and that people would not be so selfish about their birdfeeders.
    TOO MANY PEOPLE in the world.
    We need more bears.

    August 28, 2020 at 1:00 pm

  29. Janet Crystal

    RIP sweet Mink. You were a wonderful mother. I apologize for humans who put you at risk.

    August 28, 2020 at 1:57 pm

  30. Alice

    I cry when I read everyone’s sweet comments. I will never know what it’s like to really love and appreciate a Bear. Only by stories & Mary’s awesome photos, book and tribute.

    August 28, 2020 at 2:04 pm

  31. Gaylee Amend

    I for one am a bleeding heart when it comes to the loss of such a creature. I am so sorry, so very sorry and hope her cubs were ready to survive on their own without becoming hunted “nuisances.” Where are they to go? Thank you for your tribute and sharing your appreciation of the gifts she gave You and thereby your Readers.

    August 28, 2020 at 2:14 pm

  32. Noreen M Anderson

    Such a sweet photo of Mink and her cub! Thank you for sharing your story. RIP Mink.

    August 28, 2020 at 2:20 pm

  33. Susie Peters

    Thanks, Mary, for sharing your story and adding your readership to the circle embracing you in your loss…our loss. xo

    On Fri, Aug 28, 2020 at 8:01 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “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” >

    August 28, 2020 at 2:54 pm

  34. Pat Nelson

    That is absolutely a wonderful photo of a mother’s love — and sad news. It almost feels like a death in the family.

    August 28, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    • Gaylee Amend

      It’s a deep hurt, partly because they are so fragile in the world of our spread, our encroachments in which we then deem them a nuisance. The Grande Dame gave well of herself in her time here.

      August 28, 2020 at 3:25 pm

  35. Sad end… RIP, Mink.

    August 28, 2020 at 3:47 pm

  36. Thank you for sharing this, Mary. So sad and difficult to learn of but I appreciate you letting us know. She was the perfect model for one of my paintings, courtesy of you. Will always remember that big, beautiful, mother bear-ness about her and sweet face.
    I do hope her cubs will survive.
    Ironically, I just saw a bear today – a bounding black flash, crossing the road while I was out doing an errand. We must save room for bears. RIP Mink.

    August 28, 2020 at 5:45 pm

  37. Sue S

    Oh, a lovely tribute Mary. Thank you for the times you shared your special moments with Mink. Heart ache for sure. Hopefully her cubs will be looked after.

    August 28, 2020 at 6:34 pm

  38. Gary Kezerian

    How do I order Yodel, the Yearling?

    On Fri, Aug 28, 2020, 8:01 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “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” >

    August 28, 2020 at 7:55 pm

  39. Thanks for this Mary. Heartfelt.

    August 28, 2020 at 8:28 pm

  40. Heidi Mack

    Hi Mary –

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful, but sad story. I got the Yodel book for my grandsons – so great to think one of her cubs. I think this photo would make a wonderful Mother’s Day card – maybe you could print some and offer for sale. The mama bear’s loving expression and protective posture speaks volumes about motherhood.

    Heidi Mack mack.heidi@gmail.com

    On Fri, Aug 28, 2020 at 8:02 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “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” >

    August 29, 2020 at 7:45 am

  41. Fearn Lickfield

    Blessings on her beautiful soul!!! Thank you for honoring her. Bears need to be seen for their goodness and resiliance.

    August 29, 2020 at 10:28 am

  42. Ruth Gross

    Loss of Mink – her loving care for her young Cubs deeply touches my heart.

    August 29, 2020 at 12:08 pm

  43. Rema Boscov

    Mary, what will happen to the cubs? Thanks.

    Rema

    >

    August 29, 2020 at 8:28 pm

  44. Char Delabar

    >

    September 3, 2020 at 8:49 pm

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