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Grinder and Coola have had a lazy end to the summer with some lingering warmth right into October!  But even during these warm weeks we've been holding in the back of our minds that winter is indeed coming.  About mid-September the bears also entered hyperphagia - a state of constant eating.  So far they have added on nearly 200 pounds to their summer weights!  They could still gain up to 50 more pounds before entering their winter slumber.  Coola is just breaking 1000 pounds and Grinder is approaching 900.

We've also been busy reducing the size of the bears' habitat as they move closer into and around their winter den.  We take down the bears' 5 acre summer fence each year as Grouse Mountain regularly gets snowfalls that tower above any fence left standing and damage it by the springtime.  So it is quite a process as we get ready for snowfall.

First snow

Today marked the first snowfall of the year and even as the first snow fell last night the bears went out for a look around and to experience the first cold flakes in person (bearson?) - check out the screen capture from the bears infrared den camera showing Coola coming in covered in the first snow of the season!

The bears love the snow and in fact with all their recent weight gain they are preferring the cold to the un-seasonably warm weather we had until recently.


Winter sleep approaches

The bears' preparation from here will focus on bed making in their sleeping chamber and the final couple weeks of bulking up from their food.

As more snow comes in November the bears will slow down and we will taper off their food supply.  This, combined with the ever shortening days, will prompt the bears to enter their winter dormancy period.

During this winter dormancy the bears are not in an actual true hibernation state but have reduced heart rates, breathing rates and body temperatures.  Their metabolism also switches to surviving off of their accumulated body fat.  The bears, however, are still awake enough to stretch, roll around or even go for little sleep walks out of the den.

All of this activity keeps their muscles, tendons and bones healthy over the wintertime.  It also allows them to keep a watch on their surroundings.

Stay tuned for more updates

Stay tuned and we will update you here as the final date of the bears being out of their den for the season approaches.

We will soon have their infrared winter camera live on the website - so stay tuned to follow along via that camera as well!

Here are a few more photos of putting the bears fence away and the first snowfall of the year.