Love in the woods: Bear crew members find romance on the job

With Valentine’s Day looming, a good, old-fashioned love story seems to be in order. This morning, I’ve got a great one for you. And as a bonus, I’ll add in a few hundred cuddly Maine bear cubs, just to increase the warm-and-fuzzy quotient.

Not a sucker for love stories? That’s OK. Just consider this a true Maine adventure tale. Because it’s all of that, too.

It all starts with the bears. Maine black bears, which a hardy and athletic group of researchers have been studying for more than 35 years. The current bear crew is led by wildlife biologist Randy Cross, and includes Lisa Bates, Jake Feener and Ethan Lamb.

Cross is the boss. He’s seen it all during his 35 “den seasons” on the project. And for the last four years, he has watched, somewhat nervously, as a romance flourished between Bates and Feener.

In fact, Bates is pretty sure that Cross knew what was going on right from the start. The crew is close, after all, and spends 13 weeks each winter working, traveling and living together.

“I had a super crush on Jake, like a teenager, and I don’t know where it came from,” Bates explained.

She thought she was acting professionally while conducting bear den visits, and was still getting the job done. Then, one day, a sow bear ran off during a den visit, and Bates was assigned to go back to the den early the next morning to see if she had returned.

She forgot.

The Fiddlehead Focus / St. John Valley Times staff are pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “Love in the woods: Bear crew members find romance on the job,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer John Holyoke, please follow this link to the BDN online.


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