On November 22nd, 2017 Grinder and Coola, our two resident Grizzly Bears, entered their 17th hibernation period at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.
Grinder and Coola had a great 2017 in their 5.5 acre habitat and helped educate hundreds of thousands of visitors to the refuge on the plight faced by wild Grizzly Bears.
Just before hibernation Grinder weighed in at 886lbs and Coola, being shy of the scale, had not stepped on for awhile but we anticipate that he broke 1000 lbs!
Over the last few weeks the bears have built a deep mattress out of Pacific-silver Fir (Amabilis Fir) branches that were provided by refuge staff. Usually it's Coola who does most of the bed making but this year we observed both Grinder and Coola sharing the bed-making.
Grizzly Bears (and other species of bear) are actually not true hibernators. While their body temperature and heart rate slow down significantly, they do not drop to the levels observed in animals that are truly in hibernation (such as bats and small rodents). Just about every day we observe motions and activities by the bears that include stretching, re-making the bed, sitting up, grooming themselves or each other, and even some play or exploration of their hibernation area. These activities keep their muscles and bones healthy throughout the winter sleep and allow them to be ready should they ever have to leave or abandon a den sight.
The bears, however, do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate during the hibernation period. In this sense they are more like a traditional hibernator.
If you'd like to follow along during their hibernation period and observe some of these behaviors please check out our Hibernation Den Webcam which uses infrared light to see what the bears are upto in the dark of their den.
The camera can be found here
See you in the spring Grinder and Coola!