After a long 144 day hibernation, 19 year-old male grizzly bears Grinder and Coola emerged on April 21st from their slumber into a different world. Despite the lack of people present to greet them upon digging their way out of their den due to the temporary COVID-19 closure, the two massive Grizzlies were happy to frolic in the remaining snow and bathe in a small icy pond. A bit of wrestling and food gathering seemed to wear them out quickly as, after an hour or so, back they went to their den for a nap.
Typically, even though they have not eaten for almost 5 months, Grizzlies do not emerge from hibernation anxious to eat. It takes a while for their digestive system to kick start, and their preferred food items for the first few month are usually high in fiber. Grizzlies are omnivorous and up to 85% of their yearly diet is plant based. To replicate some of the food types Grizzlies would normally find at this time of year Grinder and Coola were first supplied with lettuce, carrots and sweet potatoes. Protein based foods are gradually introduced as the year progresses.
Last year Grinder and Coola emerged from hibernation on April 2nd after a 128 day winter dormancy period, having lost 15% & 19% of their body weight respectively. This year Grinder entered hibernation weighing 419 kg (921 pounds) and the typically larger Coola was 480 kg (1056 pounds). Both looked trimmer upon emergence but neither bear was interested in helping us check their weight on the scale in their habitat.
As the Grizzlies habitat expands with the disappearing snow to its full 5.5 acres, Grinder and Coola will be exploring for natural foodstuffs and grazing the new vegetation that will rapidly grow. Eventually their spring food preference of high fiber items will change to berries and other fruits, fish and meat.
At 19 years of age, Grinder and Coola are in their prime. They remain best friends, and are never far from each other, which would be unusual for two male Grizzlies in the wild. You certainly have to get along to hibernate together for 5 straight months, and these bears have done it effortlessly every year since they were cubs.
Even though Grinder and Coola are once again out and about exploring their mountaintop habitat please remember that due to COVID-19 Grouse Mountain is temporarily closed and public access to Resort property is prohibited. You can still connect virtually with Grinder and Coola through our live webcams on the Grouse Mountain website as well as stay tuned for updates on the blog and our social media. In the meantime, Grinder and Coola will be patiently waiting until we can safely welcome you back to the Mountain.