Updated: Feb 18
Felicia (grizzly sow) - 2019
Felicia was relocated near Grand Teton National Park and became an instant hit. In 2018, it is rumored she had cubs but lost them. Some deny this rumor, some say they witnessed her with cubs. Felicia is easily identified as is most notably available bears are. Felicia has a GPS collar since 2018. She may have dropped it by now. We shall see when she emerges from her den. Her ears always seems like they are pinned back a bit and she squints often.
Her 2019 adventures is something for a Disney movie. Felicia left her den with two COY (cubs of the year). These cubs were the smallest grizzly cubs I have ever witnessed in the wild. Could they have birthed late? Was Felicia's source of milk limited? Or did something else factor in with respect to the cub's size ? One can only surmise.
It had already been discussed that it would be very difficult to survive these two little ones with the onslaught of mating season that began in May. Hence it was determined so. Felicia meanders in search of food in the same district as many grizzlies including huge boars (males) full of testosterone and in a frenzy to mate with her. A boar arrive and separated the cubs from Felicia.
Felicia - 2019
Felicia was very distraught for four days losing the cubs and being unable to find them. She searched for both of them. And on the fifth day she reunited with Pepper (the cub with the prominent white fur collar). Felicia continued to search for the second cub with no luck. The other cub was lost forever. Felicia allowed the found cub, Pepper, to hang with her for a short time (less than a week) and then she separated from Pepper. Now, onlookers had their own theories why she did this. some theories were a bit skewed.
Felicia and Pepper were seen many times eight miles apart and then switched positions days later meaning they crossed paths many times. Pepper, on smelling her mom's day old tracks, would moan and groan like a lost child. It was very disturbing to imagine what was going on in his head. Observing Felicia, it seemed she was still desperately seeking her cub.
One outlandish theory was that Felicia separated from the cub so when a boar approached her, the cub would be safe. But being alone as a cub of that size would not deter a boar from killing it. During mating season a grizzly sow can only go into heat if it has no cubs. This is why boars wish to remove the cubs, so they can mate again with the sow.
A continuation of this theory of separation was that as Felicia and Pepper crossed paths at night, Felicia would allow Pepper to nurse and then separate for safety reasons. That is why the cub survived. It needed milk and got it.
Felicia & Pepper - 2019
Felicia, Pepper (on left) and Pepper's sibling - 2019
Felicia (a.k.a Clover) and Pepper -2019
Pepper and Felicia were separated for over 30 days. Both were seen many times during this span but never together. Sometimes eight miles apart, sometimes a quarter mile apart. Pepper was industrious. He would find his own food at such a young age, being only months old. He would eat grasses, flowers, dig up roots and occasionally a pocket gopher (ground squirrel).
Then on one fine day the two reunited and Felicia allowed Pepper to be with her straight thru to hibernation. They are in the den right now together. Both stored enough fat to think he will survive the harsh winter.
Questions that arise:
- Will Felicia still have her GPS collar ?
- Will Pepper survive the winter ?
- Will Felicia emerge from the den with Pepper and new COY ?
- If so, will she boot Pepper or disregard the COY or neither ?
This has happened in Yellowstone before. This is a true story and a great one. Spring will provide us with the next chapter. Stay tuned.
Pepper - 2019