For the first time in almost three decades, the black bear known as Quagmire will not roam the woods.
Quagmire got her name when she was a young bear. Division of Natural Resources biologists trapped her and put a radio collar on her. To differentiate between her and other radio-collared bears, they gave her a name. The naming system in place at the time called for a moniker that started with “Q.” They settled on “Quagmire.”
Quagmire lived a typical black bear life. She got pregnant and bore litters of cubs. Year after year after year, biologists tracked her comings and goings by following the steady beep-beep of her collar’s radio signal.
After a decade or so, her followers began to notice that she had lived far longer than the average bear. They celebrated her 20th year, and then her 25th.
“She bore her last litter of cubs at age 25,” said Chris Ryan, the DNR’s former bear project leader. “Over her lifetime, we estimate she contributed about 20 cubs to the state’s bear population.”
Quagmire dropped off the DNR’s map last fall. Ryan said her collar showed that she was alive just before the deer firearm season, but she dropped the collar not long after.
“One of our biologists went out to investigate,” Ryan said. “He talked with some guys who had trail-camera pictures of her. They said she had lost a lot of weight, and that her collar was just flapping around loose on her.”
Ryan doesn’t know for sure, but he speculates that Quagmire went into hibernation in late November or early December and never woke up.
“We checked some of her known dens, but we never found her,” he said. “We can’t officially say she’s dead, but that’s the assumption. She lived a mighty long life for a bear. She was 29 when her collar dropped off. If she’d lived until February, she would have turned 30.”