While skiing by the Grizzly Bear Refuge this week you may have noticed some staff members around Boo’s enclosure.
This year, Boo has had the unique opportunity to hibernate in his main enclosure as opposed to his usual winter holding area. This is a first for Boo, giving him the experience to spend the winter in a den he has created on his own.
Over the past few days our team members have been working hard on extending the Bear Refuge Habitat fence by four more wires. This is to ensure that come spring time Boo and everyone around the Refuge are happy and safe with the added snowpack!
Boo’s natural den is dug into the roots of an old Spruce stump and is about ten feet into the earth. At the den entrance is a large tunnel about 3 feet in width and 4 feet long. This entry way slants slightly to the left and has a mound of dirt at the end of it creating a windbreak. Past this windbreak you find a large, round area about seven feet in width which is used as the main “sleeping quarters”.
On warmer days, Boo may stretch out to his tunnel and create a break in the snow that has covered the den entrance. On very cold days like we have had recently, Boo will be tucked deep into the back of his den, as it is heavily insulated with the snowpack and deep earth. In the fall, Boo will prepare his den by collecting bedding such as grasses, leaves, and fireweed from the nearby areas. He will roll the bedding up into large tufts, and then proceed to roll it backwards into his den entrance, setting it up in his bedding area. This will add additional warmth and comfort throughout the winter season.
The amazing part of this process is that Boo has never been taught how to hibernate, create a den, or even collect his bedding material. This behavior is based solely on instinct.
You can visit Boo this summer! Stay tuned for upcoming information about the day to day life of Boo the Bear and the team who care for him and get information about visiting our Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre on our website.
Words by Catherine Cowan, Grizzly Bear Ranger