Grizzly bears Grinder and Coola don’t seem to mind one little bit that it’s still a winter wonderland high atop Grouse Mountain. After a five-month long hibernation, the white stuff seems to be the perfect playground for poking around, playing and logging the first romp of 2013.
“The bears appear to be in outstanding condition after a healthy and typical hibernation period,” says Wildlife Director and veterinarian Dr. Ken Macquisten. “They began eating roughage a few days ago to jump-start their digestive and metabolic systems, and based on their playfulness that seemed to work.”
This marks 12 years since the orphaned grizzlies were rescued and became residents of Grouse Mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.
“This year we noticed Grinder and Coola starting to stir during the warm temperatures over Easter weekend,” says Devin Manky, Wildlife Manager. “Even though we are still getting fresh snow up top we think the longer daylight hours are drawing them out.”
Now that the bears have left the hibernation den, the Wildlife Refuge staff will activate the outdoor habitat cameras so Grinder and Coola fans from all around the world can follow the adventures, while others can come up to Grouse Mountain and observe them first-hand.
Both grizzly bears came to Grouse Mountain in 2001 as orphans.
Over 12 seasons studying the winter habits, the Refuge team has learned that bears are not ‘true’ hibernators. They do sleep for extended periods called ‘dormancy’ when they will not eat or drink, but they will wake up and move around. They don’t defecate or urinate during dormancy.
“Grouse Mountain is proud to have been able to share data with bear researchers across North America,” added Dr. Macquisten.
The Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, a research, education and conservation centre at the top of Grouse Mountain is dedicated to becoming a world leader in preserving both wildlife and flora at risk. The Refuge offers leading-edge interpretive programs that make learning about nature fun and fascinating. More than 15,000 British Columbia School Children visit on field trips each year.
Grinder was found in 2001 in Invermere, BC. He was wandering alone on a logging road, dehydrated, thin, weak and weighing only 4.5 kg. His mother was never found so we’ll probably never know why he was alone. Grinder is outgoing and high-spirited. He has established himself as the dominant bear despite his smaller size. If you see Grinder and Coola wrestling, you can bet he started it.
In 2001, Coola was found orphaned on a highway near Bella Coola, BC. His mother had been killed by a truck and, of her three cubs, Coola was the only one to survive. Coola is an easygoing bear who’s content to let Grinder take the lead in new discoveries. He can usually be found submerged up to his neck in the large pond, carefully feeling around for his underwater playthings - a log, large bone and favourite rock.