Mother bears in Northern Minnesota (like Orr) will have, on average, 3-4 cubs every other year. Although we have observed that young, new moms typically have 1-2 cubs and that as mama bears reach senescence (old age in which they will no longer have cubs), they typically only have 1-2 cubs too. I guess life only gives them as much as they can handle in those phases of their lives! At the Sanctuary, we have seen mama bears that had 5 cubs at one time, although this is extremely rare but truly amazing to see!


Black bears have numerous adaptations that allow them to survive frigid temperatures in Northern Minnesota. One that I just came across the other day was a new fact for me that I just found too amazing to not share with you all!

Their coats are so well insulated that frost can form but the bear’s body heat will not escape enough to melt the frost. This is how bears can hibernate in dens that are partially exposed to the elements, like the image pictured below.


Happy Monday! Today the video from the president of our organization, Dennis Udovich, (posted on our Facebook page, find us by searching for the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary) is the same trail cam location as the last 2 videos we have posted on Monday’s. To remind you of those past videos, last Monday we posted a video of a bobcat sniffing the area out. The Monday prior to that was a fisher (a member of the weasel family) sniffing the area out. This weeks video is of a snowshoe hare, which ironically, just so happens to be part of the fishers and bobcats diets!


Snowshoe hares were named so due to the fact that the soles of their feet are large and well-furred to allow them to walk on top of the deep snow. Snowshoe hares also have a pretty cool adaptation. In the summer they are brown to blend in with the forest floor. In the fall they begin to molt their brown coats and begin to turn white so by winter they blend in with the snow!


Fun fact: Snowshoe hares can jump 12 feet in ONE HOP!!!!! They can also run up to 30mph (which is the same as black bears)! That is pretty impressive for such a small mammal!


Black Bear cubs are extremely playful.  Not only will they play with their siblings, they may also try to play with their moms, cubs that are not related, and sometimes other sub adult and adult bears. Depending on mama bears personality, she may allow her cubs to play with another mother’s cubs. We have observed numerous occasions at the sanctuary in which cubs initiate play with other cubs that are not related and sometimes it is allowed, sometimes it is not. As for playing with other sub adults and adult bears, this is never allowed. Typically, cubs will be reprimanded by their moms for doing so, as this could potentially be dangerous to the cubs.

Play fighting is very important for young bears because it teaches them to protect themselves, helps them get stronger be developing their muscles and increases coordination. But if things get too rough, mama bear will discipline them by swatting them with her paw!


Since black bear cubs are born in January & February in the den, we like to take some time this time of year to talk more about cubs!

Like all children, cubs are extremely full of energy, especially once hibernation has ended. When they emerge from their dens in early spring, they are extremely eager to explore the new world that they now live in. As black bear cubs begin to explore, anything and everything can be a “toy”. Sticks, rocks, animals, hollowed out trees, and even mom (as seen in the picture) are all exciting things to explore and play with. All of this exploring takes LOTS of patience from mother bear! Everything is not all fun and games though. Cubs only stay with their mothers for a year and a half and it is very critical that they pay attention and learn everything that they need to learn to be successful at surviving. It is not uncommon for mother bears to discipline their cubs with a swat to the butt or head to ensure that they are paying attention. In the short time they are with mom she will teach them how to find safe food to eat, how to hunt, find a den, construct a den and escape danger by climbing a tree.


Happy Monday! Today we have a great video (posted on our Facebook page) to share that came from the President of the ABA, Dennis Udovich.

How do you tell if it is a bobcat or a lynx? Here are a few facts that can help you decide.

Minnesota has 3 native cats; the cougar, Canada lynx and bobcat. Bobcats are the most common.

The bobcat is smaller than the lynx, but not by much. They can weigh between 20-30 lbs. They have short ear tufts and a black-tipped tail.

Lynx have large, furry feet that allow them to walk on the deepest, softest snow. They can weight between 20-44 lbs. They have a long, pronounced goatee under their chin that is lacking in the bobcat. When I am trying to distinguish between the two, I always look at the ears. Lynx have 2 inch long, black tufts on their ears. Even when the cat is running, it is visible.

What do you all think? Bobcat or lynx?


THE CUBS ARE COMING, THE CUBS ARE COMING!!!! January & February are two of the BEST months because thousands of black bear cubs are being born in their dens in North America! The cubs are born late January into early February. In Minnesota, they are being born during FRIGID temperatures (today in Orr we have a high or -5 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of -27 degrees Fahrenheit)! While mom is sleeping during hibernation, she is still awake and alert enough to take excellent care of her cubs. Her cubs are born with little to no fur, so she needs to keep them close by to soak up her body heat.


Happy New Year! The president of the American Bear Association, Dennis Udovich, captured this fisher on his trail cam and we thought you might enjoy checking it out (posted on our FB page)!

Fishers are members of the weasel family and are extremely agile and active predators. They are EXCELLENT tree climbers (just like bears)! Despite its name, it does not catch or eat fish. It is an omnivore, so their diet is a mixture of carrion (already dead animals), meat, wild berries & nuts. They typically prey on snowshoe hare, mice, squirrels, and porcupine.

Adult females can weigh 6-8 pounds, and males can weigh up to 18 pounds. In Northern Minnesota, fishers are sometimes mistaken for pine martens, as they look similar, although pine marterns are significantly smaller (adults weigh only about 2 pounds).

Fishers also have another thing in common with bears. They exhibit delayed implantation. Females get pregnant in the spring, but the blastocyst doesn’t implant to the uterine wall for another few months, in which then it will begin to develop.





For those of you that have followed our page for a while, you have maybe read a lot about Peanut the bear and her most recent cub, Cashew. Peanut is a staff favorite and therefore, any of her cubs are just as loveable since they often times take after her personality. Today’s photos are of Cashew. The image on the left is of Cashew as a cub, about 5 months old, taken in June 2016. The image on the right is of her as a yearling in late August 2017, so she would be almost 1 year and 8 months old.

Peanut dispersed (kicked out) Cashew in late May 2017, so at this point, Cashew had been on her own for only about 5 months. She learned a lot in that short period of time and changed quite a bit as well! We watched her change from a very brave cub that would approach full grown, adult bears in an attempt to play, to hiding out in the safety of the canopy of a tree all day, trying to work up enough courage to come down to eat. Things change a bit when you don’t have mom fighting your battles anymore!

Today in Orr, MN we are experiencing a wind chill of -34 degrees Fahrenheit and we sure are hoping that all of our beloved bears are warm in their dens!



While doing some research for our NEW deck signs, I came across a fun fact that I found so fascinating that I had to share!

Black bears love ant broods and in some bad berry and hard mast years, ant broods can be a lifesaver for black bears. When talking about the 10-15% “meat” or protein that makes up the bears diet, it is typically ant broods. However, I did not realize just how much protein they (and other insects) actually contain!

Ant broods contain about 80-90% protein. To put this into perspective, beef is about 20% protein, so a handful of ant pupae and larvae is the equivalent to a full sized burger! Pretty neat, right!?


Pictured above is a bear we call Jade. She is easily a staff and intern favorite. I am sure you can imagine why when looking at this photo since this photo basically sums up her overall attitude towards life. She has a very laid back personality. She visits the sanctuary often during July & August, not so much for food though. We have actually observed her and her cubs doing more relaxing and napping than eating when they visit the sanctuary. Jade has claimed a section in our backwoods of the sanctuary as her own for lounging and napping. Despite her laid-back personality, she is a fierce mama bear! In our opinion, she has the best parenting style, she is often laid back, but strict when she needs to be, especially when it comes to keeping her cubs safe! Unlike Nikki, who we posted about yesterday, Jade has been seen several times allowing other cubs to eat, lounge and play with her cubs. Isn’t it amazing how different their personalities can be?




Today I want to talk a bit about mama bears and the different ways in which they teach and discipline their cubs. Pictured below are two mama bears that, to a lot of people, probably look very much alike. However, I assure you they are both two very different females, with two very different personalities and VERY different parenting styles. Jasmine on the LEFT is a younger, newer mom. Therefore she lacks experience. It is not uncommon to see her cubs wandering through the feeding area by themselves. She is always near as they explore, however, she gives them a little too much freedom sometimes. I have observed her cubs walking up to various bears, attempting to share food with them. This does not go over well for most bears, as you can imagine. To let the cubs know that this is not OK, most bears will make a bellow noise, which sends the cubs running the opposite way. During all of this, Jasmine is typically oblivious to the danger her cubs could potentially be in.


Nikki on the other hand (on the RIGHT), keeps a short leash on her cubs, figuratively, of course. She does not allow her cubs to wander more than a few feet from her. Nikki is an older female, about 18 years old, with lots of experience raising cubs. She is such a fierce, strict mom, that I once saw her discipline someone else’s cub! Nikki and her cubs were eating some nuts and another cub wandered up to them to eat with them. Nikki bellowed at the cub, letting the cub know that it was not welcome. The cub continued trying to eat with them. Nikki was having none of that. She flipped that cub on it’s back so fast, the cub didn’t even realize what was happening. Fortunately, this was just a warning for the cub and nobody was hurt.



Since Thanksgiving is coming up tomorrow, we thought we would talk about bears and food! The life of a bear revolves around food! Since they are omnivores and eat around 80% vegetative matter, they need to be constantly thinking about where their next meal will come from. In the wild, they will typically graze all day to consume enough calories. During good berry seasons, they can consume up to 100,000 berries IN ONE DAY! Since they eat a lot of vegetation, they have to eat LARGE amounts of food in one day and therefore search for things that have lots of protein, fat and sugar to help them gain weight.


Some of their favorite foods in Northern Minnesota include hazelnut, acorns from oak trees and sarsaparilla berries.


They begin preparing for hibernation as early as late July by eating copious amounts of food. Since they can lose up to 1/3 of their weight in the den, they want to try to gain 30% of their weight prior to entering their dens in October-December. With that being said, they will try to consume up to 20,000 calories A DAY to gain a few pounds daily.


Not feeling as bad about consuming copious amounts of food now on Thanksgiving Day? Yeah, us either!