The Cub Probe

The cub probe is an Aqua-Vu Infra-red Underwater Camera donated by Jeff Zernov of Nature Vision, Inc. (Baxter, MN) and adapted for den use by TV producer Doug Hajicek. It works in total darkness.

Ely researchers used it to observe and videotape Blackheart and her newborn cubs in a den in March 2000. Some of the videotape was used in “The Man Who Walks With Bears” on Animal Planet.

In this video, the cub probe provided the first recordings of how wild mothers care for cubs. Although mothers reduce their metabolism in winter, they are plenty able to care for cubs. 3-year-old Blackheart is shown licking drops of meltwater from her cubs on a warm winter day. Infrared technology and a trusting bear made these images possible.

Blackheart provided a rare window for the world to watch how wild bears care for their cubs in the den. Researchers and the Minnesota DNR ask hunters not to shoot these valuable radio-collared bears. Blackheart lived over twice as long as most bears before a hunter killed her at the age of 8¾ years in 2005.

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