Blackcomb resident adult female Zoe forages newly ripening oval-leafed blueberries on Aug. 2.
Zoe bred in June and could produce one to three cubs in late January, just before the start of the Winter Olympics.
Her body will delay the implantation of fertilized eggs until November to ensure that she has gained enough weight from berries for successful hibernation and birth.
Zoe's last two litters were three cubs each and all survived at least to two-year olds. Her last litter in 2006 was raised for 2.5 years (2008) instead of the normal 1.5 years, possibly due to a poor berry crop in 2007.
This year, a minimum 11 females have bred this past June to possibly produce 11-22 cubs this winter. High temperatures in late July through early August have shriveled much of south and west-facing valley berries and have ripened the higher elevation berries about a week early.
This week's cooling rainy period will help slow down the ripening, reduce plant stress, and prolong berries through late August and September, and with luck it will keep bears out of the valley.
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