Both were captured when relatively young. Both were outfitted with collars. Both had their comings and goings tracked by wildlife researchers. Both produced lots of offspring.
Garshelis told Cook that No. 56 churned out 11 litters - 28 or 29 cubs - before she became barren. Chris Ryan, former bear project leader for the West Virginia DNR, said Quagmire produced about 20 cubs. Both sows bore their final litters at age 25.
Both also lived in states where a lot of bear hunting goes on.
According to Garshelis, fully half the female bears in Minnesota live fewer than four years. No such figures are available for West Virginia, but it seems reasonable to assume the averages for the Mountain State are roughly the same as for the Gopher State.
That Quagmire could evade hunters in Randolph County - one of the state's top bear-hunting counties - for so long is pretty remarkable. Garshelis told Cook that Minnesota officials recently started asking hunters who frequent No. 56's corner of the Chippewa National Forest to be on the lookout for a collared bear with half an ear tag missing, and to avoid shooting the old sow.
The story caught my attention for two reasons - its unusual nature and its parallels with Quagmire's life saga.
While I tip my hat to No. 56 for her superior and ongoing longevity, I contend that Quagmire by far had the more colorful name.
When Quagmire was captured, DNR researchers gave every radio-collared bear an alphabetically sequenced name to differentiate them. The letter "Q" happened to be next up, and after some discussion, biologists settled on "Quagmire."
The name certainly was memorable, and as Quagmire grew old enough that biologists began to take notice, outdoors enthusiasts around the state followed her exploits in my columns as well as those by the late Skip Johnson and Andy Hansroth.
Rest in peace, Quagmire. You might not have been the oldest, but you certainly entertained us while you were with us.