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Grizzly Bear Refuge Report

Winter 2015\2016 Refuge Report

Winter is in full effect and resort staff is buzzing with excitement for this year’s ski season.   Boo officially went into hibernation Friday November 13th and although Boo was seen by Refuge Ranger Nicole on the Saturday following Friday’s big storm, Boo only exited for his final potty break of the year before returning to his den to remain for winter.

Bears are considered super hibernators.  Unlike true hibernators such as marmots or ground squirrels, bears don’t drop their metabolic rate.  In fact Grizzly bears can burn up to 4,000 calories each day in hibernation.  Bears will exhibit a shiver like reflex which allows them to exercise their muscles & keep their muscle tone.  Bears also don’t lose bone density or suffer from toxicities such as uremia from not urinating all winter.  That’s right, bears don’t go to the bathroom at all during hibernation & that can be up to 5 months here in the Rockies.  The body goes through a unique process only known to bears and will recycle urine & feces that may be produced.  The body will turn this waste into proteins & hydration to support the body during their dormant period when food isn’t being consumed.  All the fat that bears work so hard to put on in the fall not only keeps them warm during hibernation but also provides the body with nutrients as it’s slowly broken down.  Female bears that were successful at mating in the spring are dependent on that extra body fat to implant the blastocysts which have been free floating in her uterus all summer and fall.  If fat enough, they will attach themselves to her uterine lining at which point they become embryos & develop within 8 weeks to be born at the end of January or early February.  Those cubs are less than a pound and virtually hairless, blind & deaf.  Mom’s fat rich milk will help the next part of their development while in the den.  They will emerge in spring at 5-8 lbs with a full coat of fur, eye & ears open.

For more information on bears or Boo specifically.  Follow Boo on Facebook @ Boo Grizzly

From the Grizzly Bear Staff at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, have a safe and happy ski season


Nicole Gangnon, Grizzly Bear Refuge Wildlife Ranger