Jewel, a 3-year-old bear whose den near Ely has been under video surveillance this winter, gave birth to at least two cubs this morning.
Lynn Rogers, a biologist for the Wildlife Research Institute, affiliated with North American Bear Center, said the first cub was born at 7:22 a.m., and a second followed suit at 8:40. There may have been a third cub born at 9:08 a.m., but Rogers said that remains unclear, as the shifting bear obscured the camera's view.
"We're wondering if the flurry of grunts we heard at that time could mean there was another birth or whether she was just responding to the vocalizations of the other two cubs," said Rogers.
The births coincide with the Jan. 22 birthdate of Hope, the first bear Rogers and his colleagues recorded being born in 2010. Hope was shot and killed by a hunter in September.
Rogers, who has a doctorate in ecology and behavioral biology, has been studying bears since 1967, and said his motivation to video record hibernating bear sows was simple: "The six months of the year a bear spends in a den had remained for the world the least-known part of bear life."
Along the way, Rogers attracted a global following. He now has more than 137,000 Facebook followers in 98 countries.
The exposure also has affected public opinion of bears, according to Rogers.
"People who were afraid to visit the area because of their fear of bears now come to visit in hopes of seeing bears," he said.
Newborn cubs typically weigh about 12 ounces at birth but emerge from the den weighing 4 to 6 pounds, according to Rogers. It takes about six weeks for a cub's eyes to open.
Birth No. 1:
Birth No. 2: