Biologist familiar with 520-pound bear, offers an update

If you haven’t read the story about Jeff Hilton’s 520-pound bear, do so now. Otherwise, this post might not make much sense.

If you have read it, and want to find out more about the burly bruin, I’ve got an update that you might be interested in.

Randy Cross, a biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife who oversees the state’s black bear study field crews, checked in on Friday with some background on the bear, which I had requested.

As you might imagine, catching up with a bear biologist during bear season can be a tricky proposition. Thanks to Randy for getting back to me as soon as he did.

Here’s what Cross had to say about Hilton’s bear:

“This [bear] was first captured as a cub in Lagrange on May 25, 2005, at 16 pounds,” Cross reported in an email. “We caught his mother later that same spring, so we saw him in the den with his mother [on a winter den visit] on Feb. 2, 2006, [and he weighed] 70 pounds. Good sized for a yearling. I had quite a time wrestling this bear on that day.”

Cross has had other run-ins with the bear since, he said.

“We caught him twice in 2009 (May 26 at 215 pounds and June 10 at 200 pounds),” Cross wrote. “The second capture that spring was at the same trap site where we caught him as a cub.”

Cross said he’s impressed with the growth of Hilton’s bear.

“[A weight of] 520 is not an unreasonable weight gain but impressive and in the upper range of what we would expect for a 7½-year-old bear to weigh [when] harvested near the end of his weight gain this year.”

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.