Year First Identified: 2017 as an adult female with a yearling cub
Offspring Of: Unknown at this time
Known Litters of Cubs: 2 as of 2020 season
Genetics Study Samples Obtained: There are no know genetics study samples obtained on 803 by Ranger Michael Saxton in 2017.
- 1 Identification:
- 2 Distinctive Behaviors:
- 3 Life History:
- 3.1 2017: Adult Female with Yearling, 1st Year Classified
- 3.2 2018: Single Adult Female
- 3.3 2019: Single Adult Female
- 3.4 2020: Adult Female with 3 Spring Cubs, 2nd Known Litter, Lost 1 Spring Cub (Runt) on July 7, 2020:
- 4 Known Courting and Mating
- 5 Known Litters of Cubs:
- 6 Known Relatives:
- 7 Genetics Study Samples Obtained:
2017: Adult Female with Yearling, 1st Year Classified
On July 22, 2018 Ranger Jeanne shared these July 2017 NPS photos of 803, some that include 803's yearling:
2017.07.31: Melissa Freels captured this video of 803 with her yearling in the video from the Brooks Falls cam:
Martina created this snapshot collage of 803 and her yearling from 7/31/2017.
2017.08.01: On August 1, 2018 Brenda D captured this video of 803 and her yearling:
On August 1, 2018 at approximately 22:52 (13:17 into this video ) Flyer 7474 (aka SteveCA) captures 803 and her yearling:
On July 22, 2018 at 08:26 Ranger Jeanne commented and remarked that the sow in the above July 31. 2018 and August 1, 2018 videos does look similar to 803.
2018: Single Adult Female
803 is briefly seen at the beginning of this video (posted on 8/24/2018) by vsylvie18. She is observed eating a fish below the Brooks Falls platform.
2018.07.10: 803 can be seen from 31:29-32:44 during a 7/20/2018 Play by Play with Mike Fitz and Ranger Andrew LaValle, video by Brenda D.
2018.07.12: During a 7/12/2018 Play by Play with Mike Fitz and Ranger Russ Taylor, 803 can be seen from 6:58-8:37, video by Brenda D.
2018.07.22: On July 22, 2018 at approximately 07:38 Bookmom captured this snapshot of 803 on her typical morning stroll in the Brooks River below the falls island.
So a morning stroll down the Brooks River resulted in our 2017 unidentified sow with a single cub becomming known to us. Thank you Ranger Jeanne for helping us put the pieces of this puzzle together!
2018.08.01: 803 uses a tree branch as a table in this 8/2/2018 video by Lani H.
2018.08.02: 803 can be seen in the foreground of this 8/2/2018 video by mckate. 505 is the sow with 2 spring cubs in the background.
2019: Single Adult Female
2019 07.15: Skybluesue captured his 7/15/2019 snapshot of 803 in the riffles.
2019.07.17: Birgitt's 7/17/2019 video of 803 scavenging the riffles.
2019.07.21: 803 July 21, 2019 NPS photo by Ranger Tammy Carmack KNP&P Flickr.
Birgitt's 7/21/2019 video of 803 fishing in the riffles.
2019.07.22: Mckate captured this 7/22/2019 video of 803 fishing at the falls.
2019.07.25: Lani H video of 803 eating near the island, 7/25/2019.
Birgitt's 7/25/2019 video of 803 eating at the island.
2019.07.27: 482 bluff charges 803 and takes her salmon, 7/27/2019 video by Lani H.
2020: Adult Female with 3 Spring Cubs, 2nd Known Litter, Lost 1 Spring Cub (Runt) on July 7, 2020:
2020.07.02: On the evening of July 2, 2020 an unknown sow with 3 spring cubs first appeared on the spit. This sow was identified to cam viewers as 803 during a 7/7/2020 text chat with Mike Fitz and Ranger Naomi Boak. In response to a question if unknown sows would be getting numbers Ranger Naomi Boak stated " The sow with 3 coy is believed to be bear #803. Both Ranger Tammy and Ranger Nick think it is 803."
Lani H captured video of 803 and her 3 spring cubs when they were first viewed, 7/2/2020.
2020.07.04: Birgitt captured this video of 803 with her 3 spring cubs. The runt of the litter can be seen falling and rolling twice in the grass.:
Mike Fitz, Resident Naturalist with Explore.org commented on July 8, 2020 @ 05:15 about the above video by Birgitt (see July 7, 2020 circumstances with the smallest of 803's 3 spring cubs).:
Birgitt's longer version video of 803 and her cubs on 7/4/2020.
803 with 3 spring cubs was observed on July 4, 2020 with one of the spring cubs hitching a ride on mom's hind end.: Cruiser created this gif of 803 with 3 spring cubs. One of the spring cubs is holding on to mom for dear life (p 07/04/2020 09:42 ).:
Cruiser captured this video of 803 with 3 spring cubs and the one lucky cub's "ticket to ride":
🎶I got a ticket to ride🎶
Arlene Beech (aka Homebird) captured this video of 803's spring cub hitching a ride:
7/4/2020 video by Lani H.
Video by Erum Chad, 7/4/2020.
A 2nd 7/4/2020 video by Erum Chad shows 803 with 3 spring cubs in a closer view.
2020.07.06: 803 and her 3 spring cubs were seen scavenging in the oxbow area on 7/6/2020, video by Lani H. The smallest spring cub appears to be moving well and following 803. At 1:38 while the family is eating scraps, the smallest cub sits and does not appear to eat.
2020.07.07: On the afternoon of July 7, 2020, a situation with 803 and one of her spring cubs unfolded on the live cams in the area of Downriver Island in the lower river. One of 803's spring cubs appeared to be ill or struggling to keep up with 803 and it's siblings. It is not known what is wrong with the cub, but Explore.org Resident Naturalist Mike Fitz and KNP&P Ranger Naomi Boak did an impromptu discussion via a live chat to try to answer some of the cam viewers questions and provide any information possible.
The ill spring cub was first seen standing on the spit. It then slowly walked down to the river, started drinking water and then laid down. It would get up, move a short distance and then lay down again. It did this a few times but then followed 803 and its 2 siblings who were swimming to the downriver island, 7/7/2020 video by Lani H. The cub was not seen by cam viewers again. Ranger Naomi initially saw the cub on the island but later could not see it anymore.
The cub struggled to reach the island and then was out of sight, 7/7/2020 video by Ratna Narayan
Arlene Beech (aka Homebird) captured this video of the 803 family group:
Cam viewer snapshots.
803 made multiple trips back and forth to the island searching for her cub. She was clearly stressed and trying to find her cub. It is unclear what happened to the cub but as Ranger Naomi stated below, she could no longer see the cub on the island. 803 was seen with her remaining spring cubs making a last visit to the island before they left and headed towards the Valley Road, video by Ratna Narayan.
Arlene Beech captured 7/7/2020 video of 803 and her 3 spring cubs. The family is seen from the beginning of the sad event through to 803 nursing her remaining spring cubs under the bridge.
803 nurses her 2 remaining spring cubs under the bridge, 7/7/2020 video by mckate.
803 continued to go back and forth to the the island. She stops to rest and nurses her cubs again, 7/7/2020 video by Arlene Beech.
The survival rate of cubs, especially spring cubs is only around 30%. We are lucky that at Brooks so many cubs survive to be emancipated. We are still watching and trying to figure out what is going on. Remember, this is nature. Sometimes it's tough to watch, which makes all the happy endings we see all the more incredible.
Ranger Nick is watching them. The cub is on the downriver side of the downriver island. 803 and the two cubs seem to be sticking with the other cub. We do not know what is wrong with the cub, but clearly something is not right. Sorry i don't have any more information. But I will keep trying. I may go out there myself in a few minutes.
Ranger_Naomi Mod I'm heading out there to the bridge. I will be offline for a few minutes. Be back with you.
Ranger_Naomi Mod Okay. I'm on the bridge. I see the sick cub on the far side of the island.
Ranger_Naomi Mod Stay with me guys. I know this is tough. Nothing is more difficult than watching a mom searching for her sick cub. This is a story we need to remember and pass along. Bears are incredibly resilient, but the challenges a cub faces are sometimes insurmountable. And sometimes we have miraculous stories like #63, the lone yearling that almost died and is now back with its family.
Ranger_Naomi I'm going to the other side of the bridge.
Ranger_Naomi Am on the other side of the bridge. She obviously can't find her cub. This may go on for a while. I'm here
Ranger_Naomi Mod She is on the far side of the island but no sign of the sick cub.
Ranger_Naomi Mod I agree with those of you who fear the cub is gone. She would not be going back and forth like that if it were still on the island. Bear moms are incredible.
Ranger_Naomi Mod • a minute ago I fear the cub is lost. She is resting near the lower river platform and now leaving. I am heartbroken. This is so difficult to watch, but it is heartwarming to see the powerful strength of the sow. Hang in there everyone.
Ranger_Naomi Mod 4:18 pm PT [Mom] is on her way back. She is right below me, calling out. If you have the strength to bear witness, stay with us. I don't think she will give up anytime soon. She is now nursing her cubs under the bridge.
KNP&P Ranger Naomi Boak said it well...."The story doesn't end because 803 has a continuing story with her other two cubs." 803 was later observed nursing her 2 remaining spring cubs; Lani H captured this video .:
Arlene Beech (aka Homebird) captured this video of 803 nursing her 2 remaining spring cubs:
Ratna captured this video of 803 and her 2 remaining spring cubs on July 7, 2020:
Birgitt captured two 7/7/2020 videos of 803 nursing her 2 remaining spring cubs after the loss of her 3rd cub.
Cam viewers captured snapshots of 803 nursing her 2 remaining spring cubs, resting and heading back to the island to look for her cub. 803 kept a constant watch on the downriver island.
Ivymoss captured this snapshot on July 7, 2020 at 20:47 of a person near the area where 803's missing spring cub was last seen on the Lower River cam feed (p 07/07/2020 20:50 ). The person then was observed near the elevated bridge after departing the area below Downriver Island, Ivymoss caputred this snapshot (p 07/07/2020 21:01 ).:
2020.07.08: Ranger Naomi Boak stopped in chat on 7/8/2020 to give an update on the ill cub.
Bear Cam Viewers
"I know yesterday was a very difficult day. Seeing the trauma that both 803 and her cub went through is not easy. But coming together as a community to tell the story and to interpret the situation to give it context can help us all heal.
I do have an update. Last night many of you observed someone fishing on the downriver island where the cub was last seen. That angler was an NPS staffer and he reported that he found the body of a dead spring cub at the location where we last saw it. Bear management and park resources are deciding today what they will do next. Once I know, I will tell all of you.
I am heartbroken to bring you this news, but I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone. This is painful because we care for these bears so much. But it is part of life — theirs and ours. And what a privilege to be a witness to the lives of these incredible animals. Hang in there."
Deanna Dittloff (aka Deelynnd) created this video tribute to 803's smallest cub who had passed away. "The Story of Tiny Cub, Bear 803's Smallest Cub 2020."
Cam viewers shared tributes to 803's deceased spring cub.
Deanna Dittloff (aka deelynnd) created this video of 803 and her 2 remaining spring cubs that captured them after July 7, 2020, "Bear 803 after July 7 2020."
803 and her 2 remaining spring cubs on July 8, 2020. Video by Ratna.:
"An update from bear management. Since you will probably see it here on the lower river, law enforcement and bear management are going to pick up the dead cub from the downriver island, to bring it to a spot less trafficked by humans and bears. It will be laid to rest in a natural spot. Because the death was likely due to "natural causes," no necropsy will be done. If bear management notices anything unusual, they will let me know and of course, I will tell you."
"Well, this was a difficult task for all rangers and park employees today. We live with these wonderful bears every day. Always sad to see one die, especially a young cub. But the team took the cub to a place where it will be less likely to be disturbed by humans or bears and will rest in peace,":
Erum Chad (aka Erie) captured this video of KNP&P staff relocating the remains of 803's deceased spring cub.:
Arlene Beech (aka Homebird) captured this video of the KNP&P staff relocating the remains of 803's deceased spring cub.:
KNP&P Ranger Naomi Boak commented at 12:59 AKDT on July 8, 2020 :
"We are privileged to be observers here. If a human does harm to a bear, we jump in to help. 854 is a great example of that. It was a wolf snare that could have killed her had the park service not intervened. The cub that died last night died of natural causes. There was probably nothing we could have done for it. We also would have gotten in the way of 803 and what she had to do to resolve things on her own terms. Remember, frequently people have thought of intervening or euthanizing a bear only to see that bear recover and prosper later on. 503 is a great example of that. When he was left behind by his mother and whining on the cams for days, many cam viewers thought the cub should be euthanized so that it wouldn't suffer. 503 figured out his own life-saving solution: #435 and now he is a great adult bear.
Bears are some of the most resilient animals anywhere. They can get serious injuries, get sick from disease and often times recover. Last year 505's yearling was at death's door, probably from a virus. Not only did that cub recover, but it is back this year reunited with her family. We must let nature take its course. It can be tough to watch -- believe me, I was not a happy camper yesterday or today. But we do what we can and what we must. Please try to understand."
2020.07.09: 803 and her 2 spring cubs fishing in the oxbow, 7/9/2020 video by Lani H. One cub is very dark with no apparent natal collar seen. The 2nd cub is a lighter brown with a natal collar.
2020.07.10: 7/10/2020 Erum Chad video of 803 with her 2 spring cubs fishing on the lower river.
KNP&P Ranger Naomi Boak comment at 14:54 on July 10, 2020 re: Why a Necropsy was Not Performed on 803's Deceased Spring Cub:
"Some of you have been wondering why a necropsy was not done on 803's cub that died. Our chief of natural resources explained that normally the park service does not do a necropsy on a bear that has died from disease, or natural causes, unless there are multiple cases. In part, it is because we are not aware of the state of readiness of labs to receive and work with samples from us during the current pandemic. So we will be trying to make contact with the wildlife health labs to make sure we are ready to respond with sample collection if a second event occurs. I hope you all understand. Everything is different and at times more difficult during this pandemic."
Ranger Jeanne commented on July 10, 2020 at 15:34 adding this information:
"In addition to that not being standard NPS practice, bears can be attracted to freshly dug earth. You also can't dig below the volcanic ash layer without compliance because of the density of archeological sites."
2020.07.12: Ranger Jeanne's July 12, 2020 07:34 comment re: possible reasons the remains of 803's deceased spring cub were relocated:
"I'm just speculating, but my guess is that they may have moved the carcass because of the proximity to the trail and places where anglers frequently fish in an effort to increase visitor safety. The Bear Management Plan addresses moving carcasses in such areas:
"If the carcass is in an area where a closure will not be effective (for example, near a regularly used trail), or it is within 200 yards of a residence area or campground during the primary visitor season of June-September, an attempt should be made to move the carcass to an area with fewer people or where people can be more easily controlled by closures or patrols. At Brooks River, this action will be under the direction of the Brooks District Ranger, Brooks Camp Manager, or the Chief Ranger, in consultation with the Resource Management Chief and/or Park Wildlife Biologist."
Ranger Jeanne also shared this information in her 07:46 comment .:
"A carcass might attract any bears to feed on it, though it's less likely with one of this size and the fact that salmon were already abundant when it died. Bears can be defensive when feeding on a carcass, so it's possible that they decided to move it farther away where people would be less likely to come across it unexpectedly. Only Naomi can confirm for sure what went into the decision-making process, but these are the sorts of things i would have expected them to consider."
Ranger Jeanne's July 12, 2020 07:57 comment re: possible reasons a necropsy was not performed on 803's deceased spring cub when a necropsy was performed on 451's deceased yearling in October of 2015.:
"Again, I am just speculating, since I am not at Katmai. There might be several factors. The illness and death of the cub in 2015 was observed over a prolonged period of time and it's more unusual for yearlings to die than spring cubs. At the time it wasn't clear what was causing the illness but it was clear that something was impacting the cub over a period of time. The logistics of performing necropsies at Brooks/Katmai are complicated-there are no scientific facilities for doing so on-site and it wouldn't be a safe thing to do outdoors at this time of year. The necropsy in 2015 required quite a bit of coordination with outside entities and that coordination was possible because most staff were in King Salmon with better access to phones and computers.
As difficult as it to watch a cub die, the high mortality rate for spring cubs at Katmai means that there are many possible reasons it might have passed away. One year Mike and some other employees came across a spring cub on the shores of Lake Brooks that was injured and seemed to be having trouble breathing. If I remember correctly, the speculation was that it may have been injured by another bear and was slowly succumbing to its injuries.
With this cub, the short period of time observing its symptoms, challenges of doing necropsies, and increased restrictions on staffing, flights and shipping due to the pandemic are all possible factors in the decision to not perform a necropsy."
Deelynnd created this video tribute to 803's deceased spring cub.:
A nice close up 7/12/2020 video by mckate of 803 and her 2 spring cubs on the lower river.
Lani H's 7/12/2020 video of 803 and her 2 spring cubs by the oxbow.
2020.07.13: 803 and her 2 spring cubs by the oxbow, 7/13/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.07.14: Lani H's 7/14/2020 video of 803 and her 2 spring cubs fishing on the lower river.
2020.07.15: 803 seemed to prefer this particular section of the lower river for fishing with her 2 spring cubs, 7/15/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.07.16: 803 and her 2 cubs eat out near the oxbow, 7/16/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.07.17: Brooks Camp visitor Lee Pastewka captured 22 photos of 803 and her 2 remaining spring cubs on 7/17/2020, #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21 and #22.
Please request Lee's (aka RiverPA ) permission prior to using her photographs !
2020.07.18: 803 and her 2 cubs scavenge in the oxbow, 7/18/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.07.19: Lani H's 7/19/2020 video of 803 and her 2 spring cubs fishing on the lower river.
2020.07.20: The 803 family scavenges in the oxbow, 7/20/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.07.21: 803 introduced her 2 spring cubs to the riffles in this 7/21/2020 video by Lani H. When 803 was observed with her yearling in 2017, they were at Brooks Falls and the riffles. As a single sow, 803 was most often seen at the falls and riffles.
2020.07.23: 803 and her cubs are seen back at the oxbow fishing, 7/23/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.07.24: Lani H's 7/24/2020 video, 803 and cubs make a return trip to the riffles.
2020.07.25: 803 and her cubs take no notice of the humans fishing behind them, 7/25/2020 video by mckate.
2020.07.29: Lani H's 7/29/2020 video of the 803 family fishing at sunset.
2020.07.30: Ratna Narayan's 7/30/2020 video of 803 and her cubs fishing the back portion of the lower river.
803 and coy scavenging out on the oxbow, 8/2/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.08.03: 803 and her spring cubs search for fish scraps in the lower river, 8/3/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.08.04: Lani H's 8/4/2020 video of 803 and her 2 spring cubs in their preferred fishing spot on the lower river.
2020.08.05: 803 fishes the riffles while her 2 spring cubs wait on the river bank, 8/5/2020 video by Lani H.
2020.08.06: 803 with her 2 spring cubs were last observed on 8/6/2020, video by Lani H. 803 has not been observed in the fall over the last 4 years. She has been seen in July and early August only.
Known Courting and Mating
There is no known courting and mating information for 803 at this time.
Known Litters of Cubs:
1st Known Litter, 1 Yearling:
2017: 1 Yearling, 1st Known Litter
803 was initially identified and classified in 2017 when she had her yearling cub. No information is known about 803 prior to 2017 at this time.
2018: Single Female
803 was observed as a single female during the 2018 season.
2nd Known LItter, 3 Spring Cubs:
2020: 3 Spring Cubs, 2nd Known LItter (one COY sick/injured, the runt, on July 7, 2020, deceased on July 7, 2020)
803 returned to the Brooks River with her 2nd known litter, 3 spring cubs. On July 7, 2020 one of the spring cubs, the runt, appeared to be sick/injured or unable to keep up with mom and the rest of the family group. The cub expired on July 7, 2020.
Genetics Study Samples Obtained:
2017: None Known
There are no known genetics study samples obtained from Ranger Michael Saxton on 803 in 2017.
2018: None Known
We do not have genetics study samples obtained information from Ranger Michael Saxton at this time.