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Today marked the 149th day of the bears 2023/2024 hibernation period on Grouse Mountain which began on November 23rd, 2023.

With a lighter annual snowfall this season it meant that there was less snow insulating the bear den and the bears started to stir a little earlier than the last few years.  Our staff were ready and we quickly set-up their hibernation habitat to allow them outdoor access while we set-up the rest of their 5 acre summer habitat.

As usual it was Grinder who emerged first and he was quickly followed by Coola!

First food of the year

Since when bears are in their winter sleep (aka Hibernation) they do not eat or drink, today was also the first bits of food for Grinder and Coola.

We always start them off with something light since their stomachs and metabolism have been shut down for nearly 5 months.  This is usually green leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuce - in the wild Skunk Cabbage is a popular spring diet for emerging bears.  This moist greenery flushes out the bears digestive tracks and gets them up and running again for heartier and harder to digest foods such as proteins and sugars.

Last November, the bears went into the den weighing in at 1012 lbs for Coola and 940 lbs for Grinder.  Today we got their first weights of the year and Coola weighed 830 lbs and Grinder was 760 lbs - amazingly roughly 180 lbs lost in the winter den per bear!

As big as that number is this is about average for the bears - they will lose up to 20 to 25% of the weight they enter the den with.  Most bears will continue to shed a bit of the winter weight even after emerging.  We expect Grinder to average down to around 700 lbs for his summer weigh this year and Coola will be around 800 lbs.

EnJoying the great outdoors

After exiting the den, the first order of business was to find every single leaf of lettuce we spread around for them.

Once that was taken care of, the next order of business was some fun play in the sun!  As the bears have aged, we've seen their play and wrestling slow down but both still have a playful spirit at heart.  Grinder was seen playing with sticks and downed branches and both bears enjoyed a dig in the snow and will inevitably build a few small snow caves in the remaining snow in their habitat.

We also observed a few play wrestle sessions which showed the bears were happy and content and still young bears at heart.

Come visit

We'd love to now welcome you to come visit Grinder and Coola in their hibernation habitat - check out Today on Grouse for hours.  The bear habitat can be visited anytime throughout the day and our wildlife rangers and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.

You'll also notice we are working on their large summer habitat, so please follow the marked trails from our main chalet to the bear habitat.

We look forward to welcoming all of our guests and fellow fans of Grinder and Coola back at the bear refuge.

Please see below for a few more photos from this morning's emergence.