Tag Archives | squirty

Black Bear Orphans and the Man who Reads Their Minds

Note: This story was broadcast by the WGBH affiliate WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station and by KPIP in Missouri. It is also featured on NHPR.org.

You’re about to hear a story about the bear whisperer of Lyme New Hampshire, Ben Kilham, and the abandoned black bear cubs he has rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Some of these cubs have formed such strong bonds with Ben, that even when they’re fully grown, they still treat him as a member of the family, so to speak, and allow him special access to their bear secrets and behavior. And on occasion, if I promise to be quiet, and obey the rules, I get to tag along –

This video of Squirty and Ben in the clearing is a rather noisy appetizer.
Click here: (17 minutes) for the story.

Ben Kilham is one of the foremost black bear researchers and rehabilitators in the country, and here he is, with one of his star bears, Squirty, now 17 years old. He took care of her and her siblings after they were separated from their mother during a logging operation that had disturbed her den. She, along with many other orphaned or abandoned cubs, has taught Ben the characteristics of black bear behavior, which share some surprising similarities to our own species. For one thing, once thought to be solitary, Ben has discovered that they are often quite social!

Photo by Ben Kilham
Ben’s featured in several nature documentaries, and he is also the author of two books — Among the Bears: Raising Orphaned Cubs in the Wild, and Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me About Intelligence and Intuition, with a foreward by Temple Grandin, which was just released this fall. ThoughtCast has also interviewed Ben’s sister and colleague, Phoebe, and the interview, accompanied by a slide show of their bear cubs, was posted on New Hampshire Public Radio’s website this spring, and can be seen here.

Posted on September 17, 2013 in a new podcast, Environment, Front Page, Science
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20 Rescued Bear Cubs Nursed Back to Health

Note: This interview and slideshow with Phoebe Kilham is featured on New Hampshire Public Radio Online.

Phoebe Kilham is the soft-spoken younger sister of Ben Kilham, the renowned black bear behavioralist and bear cub rehabilitator, based in Lyme New Hampshire. But he couldn’t do this work without her, or the support of his wife, Debbie.
Phoebe’s dogged determination, every day, to care for and feed these motherless cubs is the essential act that creates for these sad orphans a safe new world they can explore, and come to trust.

Last spring, the Kilhams were inundated by 20 bear cubs, far more than the usual handful, and it became their job to nurse them back to health, while still keeping them wild enough to be released once they reach the age of 18 months. (This number was then increased to 27 during the harsh winter that followed.)
Well, that’s a lot of mouths to feed, as Phoebe found out.  She spoke with ThoughtCast on Ben and Debbie’s deck, within shouting distance of the bear cub enclosure.

Note: all of the photos in this slideshow were taken by Ben or Phoebe Kilham.

To hear a longer audio version of this ThoughtCast interview with Phoebe Kilham, click here: to listen! (13 minutes).

Posted on May 20, 2013 in Environment
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