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Adult Male ~ 2017 and after
Independent Subadult Male in July 2014, then Adopted thus Returning to Dependent Yearling in July 2014 and 2015, then again Returning to Independent Subadult Again in 2016
Year First Identified: 2014 as a 1.5 year-old subadult (402's abandoned yearling)
Known Offspring Of: 402 (2013 litter) Abandoned in July 2014 / Adopted by 435 Holly in July 2014
Genetics Study Samples Obtained: 503 was successfully darted by Ranger Michael Saxton in 2016 (prior to October 18, 2016)
503 Cubadult is a medium-small subadult bear, but is quite large for his age and has tall, lanky legs. In July his fur is light to medium-brown. He has dark eye rings and a dark face. His neck and head are last to shed. In the fall, his fur darkens to a grizzled-brown, and is slightly lighter on his head and neck. He has a protruding lower lip, tall brown ears, and dark claws.
In 2016 and 2017, throughout the summer, 503 Cubadult was seen fishing and scavenging in all areas of the river. He even succeeded in fishing the "jacuzzi", and the lip of the falls. 503 appeared willing to fish near other bears and anglers. 503 often plays with other subadults and young adult bears, including 151 Walker, 289, 602, and adopted sibling 719.
503 Cubadult has a unique life history. As a cub, 503 originally belonged to 402, but after an unusually timed series of events, he was abandoned by his biological mother in early July 2014. Most cubs are pushed away by their mothers in the spring after two to three (rarely four) summers. As a lone and small yearling, he faced many threats to his survival, not the least of which was other bears. Since he was then independent and observed during several bear monitoring sessions, he was assigned #503.
By the end of July, he was adopted by 435 Holly , a female with a single spring cub (now known as #719). 435 Holly treated her adopted yearling just like her biological female spring cub. She allowed him to nurse, take fish from her, and play with the spring cub. We will never know 435 Holly's reasons for adopting the yearling with any certainty, but bears, even young bears, are adaptable and smart. They possess the ability to recognize favorable situations and take advantage of them. In 503's case, the reward (protection, food) was worth taking the risk (intolerant bear, injury, death) of approaching a strange bear. If he had approached an intolerant female too closely, he could have been injured or killed. Instead, his strategy helped to ensure his survival into subadulthood.
435 Holly continued to raise 503 Cubadult through 2015 and emancipated him along with her biological cub (719) in spring of 2016.
503 Cubadult overcame significant challnges as a cub with resilience and adaptability. In 2016 and 2017 he faced another difficult time in the life of a brown bear: subadulthood. His survival and success depended on the lessons he had learned and tested his abilities in new, challenging ways.
503 Cubadult was one of three spring cubs born to 402, her 5th known litter. More photos and videos of 503 as a spring cub in 2013 will be available on 402's wiki page when it is created.
402 and her three spring cubs (503 Cubadult is believed to be one of them) can be seen in this video by Kara Stenberg. 409 Beadnose and her 3 yearlings (500 Indy and 717 are believed to be two of them) are the 1st sow and cubs seen in the video. Footage of 402 and her 3 spring cubs (503 Cubadult) begins at 1:39 and continues at 2:18. 89 Backpack and 32 Chunk can be seen beginning at 3:08.
2013.07.16 Approximately 18:40:
At approximately 8:00 into this video by MsDebbiB two of 402's three spring cubs wash over the falls. Female ear 813 Nostril Bear is the bear that approaches the cubs and 402 reacts to.
Park visitor Gusty Stambaugh's video of 402 and her 3 spring cubs captures parts of what the BF live cam misses in MsDebbiB's video above:
Explore also provided this highlight video on the event that includes slow motion of some segments:
On 07/17/2013 at 09:10 Ranger Mike comments about 402's cubs washing over the falls on 07/16/2013:
"I just got a chance to watch the video of 402’s cubs getting swept over the falls. These cams really give great insight into the dramas of nature.
402 will regularly fish the lip of the falls, even when she is caring for cubs. She is unconsciously weighing the risks of fishing at Brooks Falls versus the reward of food. There may be many other places along Brooks River to fish, but at this time of year none are typically as rewarding as Brooks Falls.
As many of you know, cubs do face many risks in their young lives. In the video, the cubs are swept over the falls as they attempt to follow their mother into the river. Spring cubs (also called cubs of the year) cannot swim nearly as well as an adult bear. The current was too strong for them and they were swept over.
One bear standing below the falls noticeably reacts to the cubs in the water. Just before the cubs were swept over, the bear was facing away from them. It appears that the other bear reacted to the objects washing over the falls. Bears are adapted to take advantage of situations where food is provided to them. If, for example, a beaver had washed over the falls then the bear might also have attacked it.
All of the bears at the falls were once small cubs like 402’s current litter and they all faced the same risks. 402’s protectiveness may have saved one or more of her offspring last night. When you are watching nature’s drama unfold at the falls, be prepared to witness some harsh realities."
On 07/24/2013 Ranger Mike shared this information:
"402 will regularly fish the lip of the falls, even when she is caring for cubs. She is unconsciously weighing the risks of fishing at Brooks Falls versus the reward of food. There may be many other places along Brooks River to fish, but at this time of year none are typically as rewarding as Brooks Falls.
As many of you know, cubs do face many risks in their young lives. In the video, the cubs are swept over the falls as they attempt to follow their mother into the river. Spring cubs (also called cubs of the year) cannot swim nearly as well as an adult bear. The current was too strong for them and they were swept over.
Interestingly, the bear that appears to go towards the cubs after they get caught in the current is a female, although this can’t be determined from watching the video. I’ve seen this bear several other times at Brooks Falls.
Male bears will kill cubs, but females will as well. The female bear standing below the falls noticeably reacts to the cubs in the water. Just before the cubs were swept over, this bear was facing away from them. It appears that the other bear reacted to the objects washing over the falls. Bears are adapted to take advantage of situations where food is provided to them, and they are conditioned to attack nearly everything that is in the water at the falls. Almost always this means salmon. However, if, for example, a beaver had washed over the falls then the bear might also have attacked it.
All of the bears at the falls were once small cubs like 402’s current litter and they all faced the same risks. 402’s protectiveness may have saved one or more of her offspring. When you are watching nature’s drama unfold at the falls, be prepared to witness some harsh realities."
2013.07.23: 402 with 3 spring cubs (503 is one of the three spring cubs) video by Live Video and Web Cams of the World:
2013.07.24: 402 with 3 spring cubs (503 is one of the three cubs) video by 60windy.
2013.10.22: KNP&P Ranger Mike Fitz traveled to Brooks Camp to do lower river live cam repairs. On his adventure, he observed 402 and her two remaining spring cubs and shared these photos:
503 was a yearling in 2014, the only remaining offspring from 402's 2013 litter of 3 spring cubs. More photos and information about 503 as a dependent yearling, prior to being emancipated by 402 will be available on 402's wiki page when it is created.
402 returned to Brooks Camp with 503, her one remaining yearling from her 2013 litter of three spring cubs. The family group was captured in this video by Various Videos1 (aka LucyB-MA):
Cam viewers captured these snapshots of the family group.
NEED TO ADD CAM VIEWER PHOTOS HERE
2014.06.27 - 2014.06.29: Ranger Jeanne observed 402 with her remaining male yearling at Brooks Camp. Ranger Jeanne has the following photos of 503 when he was 402's dependent yearling on her flicker: 402's yearling 06/29/2014 & 402's yearling 06/29/2014 ,
The following July 2014 NPS photos are available of 503 Cubadult from the Bears of Brooks River books:
2014.07.??: 402 and her remaining yearling (now known as 503 Cubadult), still bonded as a family group, can be seen in this video by 117jmg from the 3:27 - 3:45 and 4:31 - 4:50 marks:2017.07.??: 503 was photographed shaking off water by Alexey Tishchenko in July 2014. Alexey's photos can be seen in:
Wild Thing! The grizzly bear that likes to boogie by Benjamin Russell
FUR-iller: boogying bear practices iconic dance routine by Caters News Agency
2014.07.01: July 1, 2014 was a stressful day for a lone yearling cub (now 503), 402 his biological mother, and NPS rangers at Brooks Camp. Around 10:00 AM 402 and her yearling cub were fishing at the mouth of the Brooks River.
The yearling swam across the river as 402 fished downstream. 402 lost track of the yearling and did not know where he was. The yearling didn't seem to know where 402 was either. 402 began searching for the yearling on the opposite side of the river. Shortly after the family was separated, 402 disappeared into the forest at the mouth of the Brooks River.
By this time, the yearling walked and ran to Brooks Lodge where he climbed a tree just outside of the lodge. With a few hunderd people moving by Brooks Lodge, the yearling was not coming down quickly. Having a lone cub treed in camp with no mother to be found was unprecedented. The rangers initially hoped that 402 would catch the cub's scent and track it into camp. Mother bears will call their cubs down out of trees with a huff. This time, 402 was missing in action.
The cub was very high in the tree. Rangers knew he was stressed, but had no way to get him out of the tree. The yearling had to come down on its own. At approximately 17:30, the yearling decided to climb down the tree. Rangers instructed park visitors, NPS and lodge staff to enter buildings, stay out of the cub's line of sight, and give it space to go on it's way. Any noise could startle the cub and cause him to climb up the tree again. As the yearling reached the base of the tree a plane started its engine and spooked the cub, sending it back up the tree.
Just before 18:00 the yearling climbed back down the tree and left the lodge area on it's own. 402 was still nowhere to be found. The cub walked along the beach of Naknek Lake aaway from the lodge and toward the campground. Possibly uncomfortable without its mother, he soon returned to the lodge area and climbed a tree.
Finally shortly before 19:55, the cub came out of the tree. 402's whereabouts were still unknown. Several NPS rangers worked hard to keep people inside buildings. With no planes on the beach of Naknek Lake, the yearling had free reign. The yearling, still alone, wanted its mother. He tried to return to the lodge, but eventually left that area and at approximately 19:58 walked back toward the river approaching the corner where live cam viewers could see him from the lower river cam thanks to Ranger Roy Wood, Chief of Interpretation and Education at KNP&P who immediately jumped on the lower river cam controls while monitoring radio traffic. Not knowing how the yearlings return to the river would play out, Ranger Roy also joined viewers in the comments.
The lone yearling approached the bank of the Brooks River just off the corner and began to bawl. Cubs bawl when they are hungry or otherwise trying to get mother's attention. The yearling's bawling clearly got the attention of one bear that swan across the river towards it. To the amazement of many viewing this, the bear that was approaching the cub was 402, his biological mother. 402 must have been near the mouth of the river and heard the yearling bawling. Miraculously, 402 and her yearling were reunited later that evening at approximately 20:08 after the yearling spent nearly 10 hours treed near Brooks Lodge. The family was last seen moving upriver into the forest.
Bearcam viewers captured these snapshots of the yearling approaching the corner where he bawled for his mother and was eventually reunited with her approximately 7 minutes later.
Explore created this highlight video of 402 and her yearling being reunited. 402's yearling appears near the corner at approximately 19:58 and begins bawling for his mother. 402 and her yearling are reunited at approximately 20:08.
Explore also created this video that is similar to the version above...except this version also includes snips of Ranger Roy's and cam viewer's comments as they were watching this amazing event unfold. I doubt you will be sorry if you invest the time to watch both.:
Ranger Roy lets cam viewers know that KNP&P interpretation staff will sort through the events of the day and get back with cam viewers:
2014.07.02: The challenges NPS staff and park visitors faced on 07/01/2014 when 402's yearling treed himself for nearly ten hours less than 50 yards from the back door of the lodge kitchen and dining hall in close proximity to many Brooks Lodge buildings prompted Ranger Mike Fitz to share this KNP&P Terrane blog: The Challenges of Managing Bears and People at Brooks Camp .
2014.07.04: Ranger Jeanne's photo of 402 with yearling .
Explore ustream highlight video of 402 and yearling 503 together at the falls on 07/08/2014: Click here to view highlight video on ustream (Note: Since this is ustream video, it may become no longer available. We are trying to see if Explore can make it available on YouTube)
Stmango's video of the same footage of 402 and 503 together at the falls on 07/08/2014:
Cam viewer Janie Nook captured this video of 402's male yearling as he learns from 402 while she fishes the lip of the falls:
On the night of 07/09/2014, 402's remaining male yearling (503) was observed in a spruce tree approximately 100 meters behind the Brooks Falls wildlife viewing platform. (see Ranger Mike;s 07/11/2014 12:28 comments snips below)
It is possible that this video captured by park visitors, laddnshirl is footage from the last time that 856 separated 402 from her 1.5 year-old yearling (now known as 503).
2014.07.10: On the morning of 07/10/2014, 402's remaining male yearling (503) was observed in the same tree approximately 100 meteres behind the Brooks Falls wildlife viewing platform that he was observed in on the night of 07/09/2014. The yearling was still in the tree at 21:00 on 07/10/2014 (see Ranger Mike;s 07/11/2014 12:28 comments snips below). When Ranger Mike walked by the area of the tree around 22:00 on 07/10/2014, he did hear the cub bawling a little.
On the morning of 07/11/2014, 402's remaining male yearling (503) was no longer in the tree 100 meters behind the Brooks Falls wildlife viewing platform. 856 is still following 402 and the whereabouts of 402's remaining male yearling is not known.
Ranger Mike Fitz comments on 07/11/2014 at 12:28 about what has been observed of 402, her remaining male yearling (503), and 856 from 07/09/2014 - 07/11/2014:
Ranger Mike also shared this 07/11/2014 KNP&P blog: Surprises of the Bear World .
2014.07.13: Ranger Jeanne comments that she has no new information on 402's remaining yearling (503), but she has observed 402 twice this morning being pursued by 856. Ranger Jeanne said that 402 is ranging about half mile down river from the falls since she observed 856 pursuing 402 in the oxbow area. When asked if in her experience she would say that 402's remaining yearling was on his own to survivie, Ranger Jeanne replied that she has never seen a sow without one of her cubs for such a long period of time and then experienced them reuniting. Ranger Jeanne said she has also never observed a male bear pursue a female in the way that resembles courting while she still had a dependent cub. She said she observed 402 quite a bit this weekend, but never with her cub. She said it does not necessarily mean that the cub is definitely on its own, but Ranger Jeanne did not personally see them together.:
2014.07.14: Ranger Mike updates the Surprises of the Bear World KNP&P blog from 07/11/2014.
2014.07.16 Approximately 15:00: Ranger Sheri Anderson, KNP&P Wildlife Biologist observes 503 eating a fish on the trail to the campground that he caught himself and captured this photo:
You can see Ranger Roy show the photo from Ranger Sheri's phone at approximately 38:00 into this live chat video from 07/16/2014:
2014.07.17: 435 Holly and her spring cub (719) were observed on the lower river cam alone (503 was not with them at this time), gif by Juergen can be viewed here .
402 and 856 were observed mating per Ranger Mike's 07/22/2014 comment:
"Last night (07/21/2014) Ranger Jeanne hinted that I had some news to share. I’d like to watch the speculation run wild, but you don’t need to be on the edge any longer than necessary.
First of all, it is not about 489 Ted. We still haven’t seen him. The news that I have isn’t that earth shattering. In fact, for those of you following the bears closely over the past two weeks, it might be an expected event.
Last Sunday (07/20/2014), 856 and 402 mated near Brooks Falls. This confirms what many of us suspected – that 402 was in estrus. Like I’d written about previously, this is odd because she still had a yearling cub to attend to until it was left to fend for itself around July 9. Bears are full of surprises though.
I would be even more surprised if 402 reunites with her former cub, now a 1.5-year-old subadult bear, since she has mated. For now, I’m going to assume she’ll follow the “typical” pattern for a single adult female and go her own way. The 1.5-year-old will have to fend for itself (by the way, we haven’t seen that bear in a few days to the best of my knowledge)."
Let’s not forget about 856 and his need either. He followed 402 for about 11 days waiting for the opportunity to mate. As a very dominant bear, he can take advantage of these situations because no other bear has challenged him for females this summer. He’s much thinner, however, than other large males like 747 and 814 Lurch, so 856 was sacrificing weight for the opportunity to sire more offspring."
Park visitor, Tim Auer was in the perfect place at the perfect time (just like CalliopeJane always seems to be) and not only observed 402 and 856 mating, but he also captured some incredible photographs of the mating pair . After returning from his trip to Brooks Camp, Tim Auer posted in the bearcam comments to share the experience You can see more of Tim Auer's photos (here) , and read his blog about his observations of 402 and 856 mating on his blog at this link: After Hours: The Story of 856 and 402 by Tim Auer Katmai After Hours: The Story of 856 and 402 by Tim Auer . Tim's friend and fellow wildlife photographer, Meril, was also with him when 402 and 856 were observed mating. You can view Meril's photos here .
KNP&P visitor and bearcam viewer CalliopeJane (aka Tina Crowe) visited Margot Creek on 07/25/2014 on guided tour with Naknek River Camp and took photos of a sow with 2 cubs. The sow appears to be 435 Holly with 1 small, dark spring cub and 1 blond yearling. 435 Holly was seen earlier this summer on the Brooks River with 1 spring cub. The blond yearling may be bear 402's emancipated yearling, known informally as the "cubadult".
CalliopeJane reported observing the sow and cubs for an hour before they ran off into the woods. At this point it is not clear if 435 Holly is merely tolerating the presence of the yearling or if she has "adopted" it and will continue to allow it to stay with her and her spring cub. Tina captured these photos:
Please request Tina Crowe's permission prior to using her photos!
2014.07.27: Ranger Jeanne and Ranger Roy have a behind the scenes conversation about Tina Crowe's (aka CalliopeJane) photos of a sow with two cubs (one smaller spring cub and one larger yearling) Tina posted from her time at Margot Creek:
[7/27/14 10:08:54 PM] Jeanne: Are you still there? If so, look at my account and check out the pictures CalliopeJane posted from her trip to Margot. It looks like 435 Holly with a spring cub and a yearling.
[7/27/14 10:21:40 PM] Roy: Your Flickr account?
[7/27/14 10:23:59 PM] Jeanne: No, sorry, my Disqus account
[7/27/14 10:35:54 PM] Roy: Ummm. That looks like Holly, Gregory, and Cubadult
[7/27/14 10:35:59 PM] Jeanne: yup
[7/27/14 10:36:02 PM] Jeanne: that's what I was thinking
[7/27/14 10:36:11 PM] Jeanne: Now I am really wishing we had gone to Margot this weekend
[7/27/14 10:36:15 PM] Roy: Has Mike seen it?
[7/27/14 10:36:22 PM] Jeanne: Emailed them to Fitz but he won't see until the morning
[7/27/14 10:36:24 PM] Roy: We need some DNA, stat!
(Note: "Gregory" was a nickname Ranger Roy was using for 435 Holly's spring cub ~ before we knew 719 was a female ~ think type of Backpack , when Ranger Roy learned that 719 was a female....well, Kelty would work!)
2014.07.28 15:44: Ranger Roy's reply to CalliopeJane (aka Tina Crowe) in bearcam comments re: her photos of 435 Holly and 503 from Margot Creek and possible adoption: "While we are cautious by nature, a few of us believe you may have captured a shot of Holly, her spring cub, and 402’s “cubadult”. Keep in mind, that adoptions are extremely rare, and this may simply be that Holly is tolerant, not fully accepting of the older cub. We intend to take a trip to Margot and investigate, and we reserve the right to completely change our minds later. Congrats on a really cool series of shots, CalliopeJane!"
The following September 2014 NPS photos are available of 503 Cubadult from the Bears of Brooks River books:
2014.09.05: 435 Holly returned to the mouth of Brooks River with her spring cub (719) and yearling, 503 Cubadult.
503 and 435 Holly nuzzle in this video by JoeBear. 435 Holly's spring cub approaches from the right.
Ranger Mike goes live from the beach of Naknek Lake to discuss 435 Holly returning with both her spring cub and yearling, 503 Cubadult. Cam viewer, Tronwolverine captured Ranger Mike's impromptu live chat on video :
15:52: Ranger Mike's 09/05/2014 15:52 comment re: 435 Holly's adoption of 503 Cubadult:
"If you're just tuning in, 435 Holly appears to have adopted 402's abandoned yearling. Holly is now caring for a spring cub (which is hers) and a yearling (which is 402's). Adoption has been documented in brown bears, but it is rare. I've never had the chance to observe it myself so this is a novel situation for me to see -- and a facinating one at that. I have not seen the yearling nurse, but I have seen it take fish from Holly and she didn't seem to care. I wonder what other stories will unfold this summer?
Enjoy the weekend. I'm off for the next couple of days, but I'll be back in chat soon."
Park visitor and cam viewer Tina Crowe (aka CalliopeJane) celebrates confirmation of the adoption in style:
Thank you Tina for sharing the first photos of this blended family group from your trip to Margot Creek in July 2014 with us!
2014.09.07: Ranger Jeanne's photo of 435 Holly with her spring cub (now 719) and 435 Holly's adopted yearling, 503 Cubadult.
2014.09.10: 503 was observed nursing from 435 Holly with 435's biological spring cub (719).
15:20: Ranger Mike's 09/10/2014 15:20 comment with photos of 435 Holly nursing both her biological spring cub and 503, her adopted yearling:
2014.09.11: KNP&P Terrane blog by Ranger Mike Fitz: Abandoned Cub Finds A New Mother
2014.09.16: 435 Holly's spring cub (now 719) and adopted yearling, 503 Cubadult share a fish in this video by JoeBear:
2014.09.17 15:30: 1.5 year-old adopted yearling nurses from 435 Holly in this video by MsDebbiB:
2014.09.18: 503's adoption by 435 Holly makes national news. Good Morning America / ABC News interviews Ranger Mike Fitz, Visual Information Specialist for KNP&P about the adoption. Watch the interview Maternal Brown Bear Adopts Abandoned Cub in Alaska Preserve.
2014.09.23: National Public Radio interviews Ranger Roy Wood, Chief of Interpretation and Education at KNP&P about 435 Holly's adoption of 503, 402's abandoned yearling. You can listen to the radio interview and read about it In Alaska, An Uncommon Act of Maternal Love . (Click the white arrow inside the blue circle ~ play button ~ in the top left to hear the radio interview).
KNP&P video of 435 Holly's spring cub (now 719) playing with 435's adopted yearling (503). Out in the river and on the shore, these two cubs battle in an extended play fight:
Ranger Jeanne's September 27, 2014 photo of 435 Holly's adopted yearling (503 Cubadult) on left with 435's Holly's spring cub (719).
KNP&P video of 435 Holly nursing her spring cub (now 719) and her adopted yearling (503) on the spit: You can hear 435's spring cub bawling in this video.
The following October 2014 NPS photos of 503 Cubadult are available from the Bears of Brooks River books:
2014.10.03: 503 with adoptive mother 435 Holly and her biological spring cub video by DTB:2014.10.05:
435 Holly's adopted yearling (503 Cubadult) left and spring cub (719) right, NPS photo :
503 Cubadult chases 500 Indy on Spit Road. 435 Holly's biological spring cub and 435 Holly follow behind in this video by KNP&P: Ranger Mike was on the lower river platform when this interaction took place and shared the following thoughts with us on the bearcam comments the next day:
"I was on the platform and was lucky enough to witness the chase. From what I was able to observe, it appears that Hollly's adopted yearling decided to assert itself over 500. The yearling initiated the interaction several minutes prior when he approached 500. This was more likely a playful approach from the yearling, but 500 wanted no part of it, perhaps because the yearling was being trailed by Holly. When the interaction began, Holly was very close to the yearling. 500 didn't want to be close to the family. When she ran, the yearling pursued and that's what the cam caught. Holly was just trying to keep up with her cubs!
Subadult bears, like 500, hold the lowest position in the bear hierarchy. They are easily displaced by other bears, as this interaction demonstrates. If you are a cub, you often hold a higher position in the hierarchy than subadults because of your mother's close proximity.
Times have certainly changed for the adopted yearling. Shortly after it was abandoned in July, he ran from everything. Now, he looks confidenet, well fed, and able to test some boundaries. For bear 500, she's going through a stage that all bears must endure to reach adulthood. Holly's adopted yearling may be asserting itself now, but once it is driven away by Holly, it will experience everything that 500 is enduring now."
You can read more about the interaction in the 10/07/2014 KNP&P Terrane blog by Ranger Mike Fitz: Chasing Bigger Bears .
The title of this video by DTB says it all: For Whatever Reason... These 3 Bears are Family. Noteworthy is that 402, 503 Cubadult's biological mother, is the bear that can be seen diving in Naknek Lake in this video:
In the words of Ranger Mike Fitz, KNP&P Visual Information Specialist ...One nagging question keep revolving in many minds ~ why would 435 Holly adopt the yearling? Some biologists hypothesize that alturism evolved in some animals is a result of shared genes. If costs to your own fitness are not too great, it would make sense for you to care for your siblings and their offspring because you share genes with them, genes that will be passes on when they reporduce. *However as of the time of the adoption in 2014, 402 and 435 Holly are not known to be related. Bears also don't live in special groups like wolves or humans where social pressures often dictate behaviors. Let's not forget about Holly's spring cub either. It now faced extra competition from a bigger, stronger bear. Could the adoption of a yearling into the family have reduced the spring cub's chances of survival? Could that decrease Holly's genetic fitness? Will an extra warm body in the den benefit her and her genetic cub during hibernation?
- In 2016 both 402 and 435 Holly were successfully darted and 435 was successfully darted in 2017 for Ranger Michael Saxton's genetics study so we may find out if 402 and 435 are related.
2014.10.06: Yearling 503 Cubadult and spring cub 719 share a fish in this video by JoeBear:
2014.10.13: 435 Holly jumps to protect her cubs on the bank near the corner in this video by JoeBear:
503 Cubadult was included in the 2015 Bears of Brooks River book on page 23 :
2015.06.02 14:54: Ranger Mike comment:
"Rangers were surprised by the early season appearance of 435 Holly and her two cubs this afternoon. Both cubs looked larger (and leaner) than last fall. Like most bears at this time of the year, they are biding their time until the salmon return. They were seen milling about near the mouth of Brooks River for about 15 minutes before they disappeard down the beach. I've attached several photos of the family to this post...."
2015.06.03: KNP&P Terrane blog by Ranger Mike Fitz: 435 Holly Returns with Her Adopted Cub :
"Each spring, I have questions floating around in my head. As spring wanes and summer approaches I wonder, what stories will unfold along Brooks River this summer? Which bears will have cubs? Which bears will maintain dominance along the river? Which will survive and endure another year of hardships in the bear world? Which will become casualties?
One story from 2014 already added another chapter. Yesterday, 435 Holly and her two cubs made an early season appearance at the mouth of Brooks River. This family gained plenty of attention last summer when a then yearling cub was abandoned and subsequently adopted by 435 Holly .
I received many questions about this family. I was asked one question quite often—since the adopted cub is a year older than her biological cub, will she drive it away in the spring? Last summer, I was not able that question with 100% certainty. Adoption in bears has been documented before, but most of these records simply note that an adoption occurred. Researchers didn’t elaborate on the behavior of the adopted cub within the litter or with its new mother. It has never been observed along Brooks River.
Mother bears hibernate in the same den with their cubs, so we can assume that 435 did the same. In Katmai, bears keep their cubs for two to three summers, hibernate with them one more time, and then drive them away in the following spring. Presumably, 435 is treating the adopted cub (which is now two and half years old) like her biological cub. If 435 has not pushed both cubs away by June, she’s probably committed to keeping them until next spring. It seems that we will have more time to observe the story of this family unfold as spring and summer continue."
2015.06.25: Brooks Camp tweet 435 Holly and both cubs are live on the lower river cam.
503 Cubadult playing with adopted sibling, 435 Holly's yearling video by Nancy Clark:
435 Holly and 503 Cubadult captured on underwater cam video by JoeBear:
The following July 2015 NPS photo of 503 Cubadult is available from the 2016 Bears of Brooks River book, however it appears the photo was actually taken on June 27, 2015 (see that date above and photo from 2015 Fat Bear Week contest);
2015.07.04: 503 Cubadult with 435 Holly and her yearling video by Martina:
503 Cubadult ascends the fish ladder wall to the lip to beg fish from 128 Grazer(?) in this video by Martina. 435 Holly is the bear standing on her hind legs below the falls close to the beginning of the video:
503 with 435 Holly and adopted sibling, yearling 719 attempt to fish at Brooks Falls. First 289 prevents 435 from focusing on fishing then the approach of 747 to the jacuzzi displaces the 435 family group from 435's intended fishing spot below the falls. Video by Martina:
435 Holly protects her two cubs from a 856, the most dominant boar, at Brooks Falls video by Martina:
Mike Fitz has a photo of this interaction on his flickr: 435 Holly stands up to 856 by Mike Fitz
and then she does it again...this time a different bear is the focus of her charge video by Martina:
The following October 2015 NPS photo of 503 Cubadult is available from the 2016 Bears of Brooks River book:
273 and her spring cub meet 435 Holly and her adopted 2.5 year-old cub (503 Cubadult) and her biological yearling (719) in this video by JoeBear:
503 Cubadult was included in the 2016 Bears of Brooks River book on page 27 :
503 Cubadult was successfully darted in 2016 by Ranger Michael Saxton for the Genetics Study.
2016.05.21: L♥♥k who showed up today!
At 20:55 Ranger Dave pops into the bearcam comments (the Explore bearcams are not live yet for the season) to let us know that 3.5 year-old 503 Cubadult has returned to the Brooks River with 435 Holly and her biological 2.5 year-old cub. Ranger Dave also shares a photo by Ranger Anela . At 20:58 Ranger Dave shares a photo of 503 Cubadult by Ranger Anela :
Ranger Tammy Carmack, KNP&P Bear Technician talks about the return of 435 Holly's blended family group in this KNP&P video posted on the KNP&P facebook page on 05/23/2017. 435 Holly and the cubs can be seen in the video on the day they returned to Brooks Camp (05/21/2016).
2016.05.23: Mike Fitz, former KNP&P Ranger and Visual Information Specialist shares his thoughts about 435 Holly and both cubs returning to the river together in his Explore blog: Another Summer with Holly and Her Cubs :
"Last week, Brooks River’s most famous bear family—435 Holly, her biological (now 2.5 year-old) female cub, and her adopted (now 3.5 year-old) male cub—were seen for a brief time at Brooks River. Last fall, the future of this family was a target for much speculation. Would 435 keep her cubs for another year? Or, is it time for them to go their separate ways? It may be too early to answer those questions definitively.
Katmai’s mother bears usually keep their cubs for two to three summers before separating from them. The cubs’ emancipation happens in spring after the bears emerge from their dens and is not voluntary. Hormonal changes, likely related to the return of the mother bear’s estrus cycle, cause her to become increasingly intolerant of her offspring. While I’ve never seen this separation occur, it’s been described as somewhat sudden and aggressive. The cubs may not know what’s coming. “It must be a traumatic experience for the juvenile bears to be evicted by a mother who has fed and protected them all their lives,” mused Will Troyer, one of the first biologists to study Katmai’s bears. This is an event every bear must endure as it matures.
But, late May is here and Holly still has her cubs. Does this mean the cubs will be spared from separation until next spring? Some evidence suggests they still may go their separate ways.
In early May 2008, 408 CC returned to Brooks River with her three 3.5 year-old offspring. We watched them play near Brooks Lodge before they disappeared into the forest. When 408 came back that July, she was single. She drove away her cubs sometime between those two events.
Bears at Brooks River usually don’t vary in the amount of time they keep their offspring. If they wean them at 2.5 years, for example, then they are likely to wean subsequent litters at that age as well. 435 Holly weaned her only known surviving offspring, 89 Backpack, when he was a 2.5 year-old.
We know that bears separate from their offspring at this time of the year, and Holly’s biological cub from her current litter is 2.5 years old, the same age as 89 Backpack when he was weaned. However, it would be a mistake to use these anecdotes as absolute predictors for this bear family in 2016. So much of this family’s history is atypical.
The stress of separation might be great for newly weaned cubs, but a mother doesn’t do it out of malice. Nor does she “choose” to keep her cubs to be nice. The mother’s biology will dictate the family’s separation or continued unity."
2016.05.XX: Add here
2016.06.04 (Saturday): 503 Cubadult is observed as an independent subadult per Ranger Daniel's 06/05/2016 14:18 comment:
"Saturday (06/004/2016) afternoon, what appears to be 503, was seen walking around the lower Brooks River, seemingly alone.
It appears that 503 may now be on its own. Did its mother 435 chase it off? Did 503 decide to leave on its own? Or maybe it was forced to leave if 435 was courted by a larger male? And what about 435's biological cub? Has it been chased of as well? These are the questions swirling around Brooks Camp today (06/05/2014).
We don't have any solid answers yet and might not ever. What we do know is that while the weaning process is probably stressful for the cub, the mother doesn’t make a conscious choice to keep or drive off her offspring. The biological processes of estrous dictates the events."
Unfortunately, Ranger Daniel deleted his Explore / Disqus account, so links to his comments and photos posted, while available will not take you to those comments / photos. Snips are provided below:
503’s life history is interesting and unique because of his early life circumstances- being abandoned in 2014 and adopted by another sow in the same year. Thanks to the Explore live cams, the interactions we receive from the NPS rangers, and park visitors like Tina Crowe (aka CalliopeJane) we have been able to witness his life story from his spring cub season on. His story demonstrates the challenges young bears face, but his story also shows us that sometimes bears can catch a break. 503’s break just so happened to be a toasted-marshmallow-colored sow identified as 435 Holly. 435 already had a spring cub and she was tolerant enough to accept 503 and raise him through those early years when cubs are unlikely to survive on their own. In 2016, 503 and his adopted sister 719 were emancipated by 435, both subadults have been seen along Brooks River and thriving. Stay tuned this now independent bear has more to teach us as we follow his story forward from here...many believe we may be watching the future king of Brooks River as he makes his way to being the most dominant boar that utilizes the river.
2016.06.06 08:11: Mike Fitz, former KNP&P Ranger and Visual Information Specialist pops into the bearcam comments to share his thoughts:2016.06.07: Mike Fitz shares more thoughts about 503 Cubadult being observed alone in this Explore blog post:
"Recently I speculated that 435 Holly and her two cubs might go their separate ways. Since then, park rangers spotted Holly’s adopted cub, 503 Cubadult, wandering alone near the mouth of Brooks River. Neither 435 nor her biological cub were seen nearby. It appears that the Cubadult has become a subadult. He’s now begun a challenging journey that will test his instincts and survival skills.
Subadult bears are those who are independent of their mother, but have not yet fully matured physically or (as I suspect) mentally. They are the teenagers of the bear world. Katmai’s bears typically enter subadulthood in their third or fourth summer. While subadults are typically curious and more playful than adults, they also must establish their own home range and face stiff competition from adult bears. If they encounter their mother, not even she will cut her offspring any slack. (A few years ago, I watched 435 Holly charge 89 Backpack, her cub from a 2006 litter.)
It’s not easy to be a teenager nor is it easy to be a subadult. Subadult bears, like 503, rank lowest in the bear hierarchy. 503 only ranks higher than smaller subadults. At Brooks River, he may wander to the falls, but will not gain the same access to salmon as he did with his mother. Without mom to shadow and protect him, he’s much more vulnerable to attacks from other bears. Accordingly, most subadult bears avoid Brooks Falls. If they do approach, they often do so skittishly, hovering on the river bank or downstream and scavenging partially eaten salmon carcasses.
Subadult males are more likely to disperse away from their mother’s home range than subadult females. While several adult male bears at Brooks River fished there as cubs (i.e. 83, 89, 151, 274, 868), 503 might wander far from Brooks River. On that journey, if he finds enough food and space to survive, it’s certainly possible that we may never see him again.
503’s multi-year subadult journey could be risky and dangerous, but if his instincts and survival skills are up to the task, it may lead to a long life. Perhaps 503 will return to Brooks River and we’ll be witness to the next part of his journey on bearcam. Perhaps not, leaving us to only wonder about his fate."
The following July 2016 NPS photos are available of 503 Cubadult:
2016.07.18: 503 Cubadult and 719 on under water cam, video by angerbodha:
2016.07.21: 503 successfully fishing at the falls in this video by LuvBears:
2016.07.23: Recently emancipated 503 Cubadult crosses paths with his adopted mother, 435 Holly in this video by Melissa Freels.
Cam viewer, Goldilocks describes the interaction : "503 and 435 Holly approaching each other, from opposite directions, on the spit. 435 Holly passes without any change in her pace or direction. 503 stops, and appears to recognize her. He changes direction and starts to run after her. He thinks better of it...stops...and after a moment, turns and proceeds to continue in the direction he was originally heading in.....straight into his successful, independent future."
2018.07.28: 503 Cubadult & 719 come from the riffles to the falls in this video by Erum Chad:
2016.08.24: This video by JoniT shows 503 fishing near the office while 435 Holly, his adoptive mother that emancipated him earlier this season fishes in the far pool. 503 is having a time navigating the rushing water whereas 435 Holly with her "stout form" has no problem maintaining her spot.:
503 gets a salmon video by Rob Rager (aka RobNJ):
503 climbs to top of falls to watch the adult boars fish where cam op gets some great close-up footage of him video by Melissa Freels:
The following September 2016 NPS photos are available of 503 Cubadult:
2016.09.02: 503 Cubadult on under water cam, video by Brenda D:
503 Cubadult was included in the 2017 Bears of Brooks River book on page 31 :
2017.06.23: 503 Cubadult returns to the Brooks River.
Erum Chad (aka Erie) captures this [http:// https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwC2vRfNYKQ video] of 503 at Brooks Falls:2017.06.30: 503 Cubadult from gravel bar to spit video by Ratna:
503 Cubadult is listed as observed on the unofficial July 2017 Bears Observed During Official Bear Monitoring Sessions List .
2017.07.01: 503 Cubadult is observed on the underwater cam, video by Erum Chad (aka Erie):
2017.07.03: 503 Cubadult and 719 (maybe) in lower river, video by birdnerd57:
503 Cubadult is startled by 775 Lefty at approximately 11:12 AM video by flyer7474 (aka SteveCA):
503 Cubadult in the jacuzzi, video by Stmango:
Melissa Freels (aka MelissaInOR) captures 503 and his adventures with the t-shirt in these two videos:
Part 1 from Brooks Falls live cam:Part 2 as the adventure continues from the Riffles live cam: 503 catches a fish in the far pool and takes the fish above the falls to eat it. Brenda D captures this close-up view of 503 in her video :
2017.08.12: 503 treis to convince 755 Scare D Bear, an adult male that play time can be fun in this video by Brenda D:
2017.08.14: Just this morning, 719 was thinking and reminicing about growing up with 503 Cubadult. DTB captures those memories from 06/29/2015 until this morning in this amazing video: The Way We Are :
2017.08.15: 503 Cubadult with 719 video by Brenda D:
2017.08.20: 503 Cubadult in the jacuzzi getting his water aerobics in, video by Melissa Freels (aka MelissaInOR):
2017.08.24: 503 Cubadult antics in the jacuzzi video by Rockatte:
2017.09.04: 509 Cubadult, 719, and 804 (aka Little Lip Fisher) video by Birgitt:2017.09.05: 503 Cubadult tolerates 719 taking part of his salmon, video by Brenda D:
17:38: 503 Cubadult slips and slides off the falls video by Flyer 7474 (aka SteveCA):
503 Cubadult and 151 Walker play near jacuzz, 274 Overflow near islandi, video by Brenda D:
503 Cubadult video by Brenda D:
2017.10.22: Approximately 2:57 into this video by Melissa Freels (aka MelissaInOR) 503 can be observed fishing from the riffles to the falls in the snow:
2015.10.25: 503 is the star of the show in this video by Melissa Freels (aka MelissaInOR) where he explores the river from the office to the riffles:
503 Cubadult is listed as observed on the unofficial Fall 2017 Bears Observed During Official Bear Monitoring Sessions List .
The fall 2017 cliffhanger....will 503 Cubadult be reclassified as an adult male in the 2018 Bears of Brooks River boook?
503 was included in the adult males section of the 2018 Bears of Brooks River book on page 77. His official nickname, Cubadult no longer appeared next to his bear monitoring number.:
The Salmon Quest by GreenRiver:
2018.06.11: Mike Fitz' June 11, 2018 Explore.org blog: 2018 Bearcam Stories: 503
2018.07.17: 503 Cuadult splashes 480 Otis McKate's Falls Low View cam video :
2018.08.04: 128 grazers 503 Cubadult when he comes to join 812 on the lip video by Birgitt.
"Bear 128 Grazer is eating a fish when 503 comes to join his younger brother 812 on the lip. Finished with her fish, 128 decides that 503 is too close for comfort and grazers him. And then makes a very smooth catch.":
Flyer 7474 (aka SteveCA) created this video of 854 Divot and 503 Cubadult; 854/Divot schools 503/Cubadult on his issues with personal space bubbles. The "action" starts at the 3 min mark.:
2018.09.03: 503 Cubadult and 151 Walker video by mckate:
2018.09.04: 719 takes over the jacuzzi while 503 Cubadult and 812 play video by Birgitt:2018.09.14: 503 Cubadult and 856 video by Martina:
2018.09.14 - 2018.09.17: Park visitor and cam viewer, Ratna Narayan captured this photo of 151 Walker and 503 Cubadult during her trip to Brooks Camp.:
Please request Ratna's permsision prior to using her photographs!
Cam viewer, Scooch created this paraphrase of Buzza Motto to go with Ratna's photograph:
"151 Walker to 503 ~
There are lots of bears
in the world, it is true
Lots of bears,
but only one you
And I count myself lucky
and shall to the end
That out of them all
I have you for a friend!"
2018.10.06: A wild incident (best watched in slo-motion) involving 602 (best watched in slo-mo). 602 tries to steal 503 Cubadult's fish and 719 comes to the rescue yanking 602 off his feet. 812 checks on 602 in the aftermath while it looks like 720(?) just watches the lost fish float by in this video by mckate.:
How He Got His Name:
The name came about in 2014 when he was an abandoned yearling. Staff at Brooks Camp needed something succinct to refer to him since he was around so much. Ranger Mike Fitz thinks Rangr Roy came up with the nickname. On May 12, 2017 Mike Fitz said : "Seriously though, I'd be hesitant to change that nickname because it is directly related to his story, unlike many other nicknames which are strange or cutesy and aren't related to their life history (Otis, Grazer, Tundra, Arctic, etc)."
Known Courting & Mating:
503 Cubadult was observed mating with 719 (435's biological 2014 offspring / 503's 2014 adopted sibling).
2013 Biological Mother: 402
2014 Adopted Mother: 435 Holly
503, Who's Your Daddy?
Since 2013 cam viewers have speculated that 856 is 503 Cubadult's father. Over the years some circumstantial photographic evidence has surfaced to support those beliefs:
856 July 2014 vs 503 Cubadult September 2016:
September 2017 503 vs 856:
On September 7, 2017 park visitor and cam viewer, Melissa Freels (aka MelissaInOR) captured this photo of 503 . On September 17, 2017, park visitor and cam viewer, Lee (aka RiverPA) captured this photo of 856 . Compare the two photos and see what you think.
As of the end of the 2017 season, 856 has managed to evade Ranger Michael Saxton and his darts for the genetics study. Bearcam viewer's paws are crossed that Ranger Michael Saxton takes another shot at 856 in 2018!
Littermates: 2 Biological & 1 Adopted
Biological: 503 had 2 Biological Littermates
503 Cubadult was one of three spring cubs from 402's 2013 litter. If 503's two littermates survived, their identity is not known to us.
Adopted: 503 had 1 Adopted Littermate, 719
2014: 719 Adopted Sibling
719 is 503 Cubadult's adopted sibling.
Genetics Study Samples Obtained:
2016: Successfully Darted by Ranger Michael Saxton
503 Cubadult was successfully darted by Ranger Michael Saxton in 2016 (prior to October 18, 2016)