top of page

Bear FAQs

What is the NABC? The North American Bear Center is dedicated to replacing misconceptions with facts worldwide. It is also working to conserve bear habitat, end poaching for bear body parts, rehabilitate injured and orphaned bears back to the wild and implement methods to reduce conflict between humans and bears. The center features interactive educational exhibits, a quarter mile nature trail and most notably, four resident bears; Lucky, Ted, Holly and Tasha. In 2013 the NABC opened their latest addition - The Hope Learning Center and Northwoods Ecology Exhibit.

What is the WRI? The Wildlife Research Institute focuses on improving coexistence between people and bears in an increasingly urbanized environment. WRI provides information to over a hundred million people each year through TV, radio, books, magazines, museum exhibits, black bear courses, and the Internet. It created the content for the North American Bear Center's Visitor Center, which opened near Ely, Minnesota, on May 5, 2007. WRI works with government agencies to improve bear management. WRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by course fees, lecture fees, memberships, donors, merchandise sales, and dedicated volunteers

Who is Dr. Lynn Rogers? Dr. Rogers is the leading biologist with the Wildlife Research Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in 1977 from the University of Minnesota, Department of Ecology and Behavioral Biology and has over four decades of wildlife experience.1

Who is Lily the black bear? Lily is a 12 year old female black bear. She used to wear a collar featuring a radio transmitter.  (As of 2015, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the WRI could no longer collar study bears.3)  This allowed the WRI to monitor her movement and location. On January 22nd, 2010, Lily became the first black bear to give birth live via webcam. She delivered one female cub named Hope. Hope's name was chosen through a contest sponsored by CUB Foods. Cathy Williamson of Indiana submitted the winning name. Hope was killed by a hunter on September 16th, 2011.


On January 21st, 2011, Lily gave birth to two more cubs. The male and female were named Faith and Jason. After developing an infection, Jason passed away on April 12th, 2011.


On January 12th, 2013, Lily gave birth to her third litter, a male and female. Her twins were named Eli and Ellie.


As of May of 2015, Lily was seen with her fourth litter of three bear cubs:  Frannie, Frankie and Francis.  

Why black bear conservation? Are they endangered? All eight bear species around the world are now listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered in all or portions of their ranges.3


Picnic FAQ's

Where is the picnic held?  Future picnic info will be announced at a later date.

What are the picnic hours? Future picnic info will be announced at a later date.

What events are planned for the picnic? TBA

Will food be served at the picnic? TBA

No alcohol is permitted at the NABC or Whiteside Park.

Is lodging provided? Lodging and travel accommodations are the responsibility of the guest. (Visit the LODGING tab above for more information.)

Where are the closest airports/train stations/bus terminals?
Range Regional Airport - approx 1 hr 45 min from Ely
Duluth Airport - approx 2 hrs 30 min from Ely
Amtrak - approx 2 hrs 30 min from Ely
Greyhound - approx 2 hrs 30 min from Ely

Car rentals are available at the Duluth Airport.

Is this picnic a fundraiser for the NABC? It is! There will be a drawing featuring many wonderful items donated by Lily fans and local venders. We will also offer commerative t-shirts and other items for sale.  Any monies raised by the event, over the cost of producing the shirts and other items, go directly to the NABC.

Brunch FAQ's
When is the brunch? TBA

Where is the brunch? The breakfast is held at the Grand Ely Lodge in Ely.

What kind of menu will be offered? TBA

Who will be speaking? TBA

Ticket Info


Tickets to the picnic and brunch are VIRTUAL.  You will NOT receive anything in the postal mail, but you may print out your receipt to present at registration in Ely.  We have all registrants on file.



Children 3 & Under: FREE
Children 4 - 11: $25
Adults (12 & up): ONE (1) Sandwich/brat: $35, $5 for additional sandwich/brat


Children 3 & Under: FREE
Children 4 - 11: $25
Adults (12 & up): $35




Phone:  218-365-7879 / 877-365-7879

1926 Highway 169

Ely, Minnesota

(located 1 mile west of Ely)

NABC website

What are the business hours? 

May-Sept - Daily 9 am -6 pm.

What are the admission fees? 

Adults and Teens $13.00
Seniors (65+) $12.00
Children (ages 3-12) $8.00

Groups (must have 15+)
Contact NABC for more info.

Ely Info

What are other points of interest in Ely? 

The city of Ely offers several kinds of activities/attractions, including art galleries, museums, parks and golf. Visit the Ely Chamber of Commerce for more information.

What items should I bring/pack? Clothes for weather ranging from around 50-90 degrees (Farenheit)
Good walking shoes
Bug repellent
Sun screen
Mosquito netting for strollers
Cash or debit/credit card-**most places in town do not accept out of town checks, even restaurants and gas stations**
Government ID showing DOB for those intending to get fishing licenses
Laptop to upload photos to FB! (There are a few places in town that have free Wifi)
Extra batteries for cameras etc

What about other outdoor activities? The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a popular tourist attraction. If interested, contact the Kawishiwi Ranger Station (218-365-7600) to find out what is required. Once in Ely, the ranger station can also provide advice on fishing lakes, hiking areas, scenic spots, as well as maps. 

Anyone looking to fish, canoe, kayak, mountain bike etc, will find plenty of opportunities here! You can bring your own gear, but many places also rent out such equipment. Piragis (1-800-223-6565) and Ya-Ta-Hey (218-365-5982) both rent out equipment.

Need public transportation? Just contact Ely Public Transit for affordable rates.

Is there any important information I should know regarding my stay in Ely? There are no dogs allowed in city parks or at the NABC. (Service animals excluded)

For those who are very sensitive, please be aware that many places in Ely have taxidermy on display. 

Parking in town is limited in the summer, so plan to walk at least some of the time if able. Most parking in Ely is parallel parking.



1. Wildlife Research Institute. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
2. Wildlife Research Institute. Retrieved 2011-03-04.

3. Star Tribune.  Retrieved 2013-07-13.
4. North American Bear Center. Retrieved 2010-03-22.

bottom of page