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Grizzly bears emerge from their winter torpor in the Rockies

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar24,2024

Grizzlies emerge from their winter torpor in the Rockies

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Boo, a grizzly bear living in a shelter near Golden, British Columbia, emerged from hibernation in mid- March.


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Despite heavy snowfall hitting southern Alberta this week, it's spring and bears living in the mountains come out of their hibernation.

Boo, a grizzly bear housed in an enclosure at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, British Columbia, recently awoke from his winter sleep. And the grizzly bear nicknamed “Boss”, or Bear No. 122, was reportedly spotted in Banff National Park this week. In the fall, pregnant females return to their dens first and are the last to come out in the spring, explains Gord Stenhouse, researcher specializing in grizzly bears, in an interview with the show Calgary Eyeopener. But large males, like the boss, are the last to enter their den in the fall and the first to come out [in the spring].

Stenhouse said researchers believe this phenomenon is linked to the size of the bears, with larger ones needing more food and preparation to get through the months.

During an interview on the show The Homestretch , Calgary naturalist Brian Keating reports that grizzly bears have started coming out about a week earlier than normal in recent years, largely because of warming temperatures.

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Don't forget that in Alberta we have three choices : either we hibernate, that is to say we sleep during this whole time; either we migrate, that is to say we get out of here like many snowbirds do; either we endure, like "real" Canadians… I'm talking about animals like chickadees, Canada jays and so many others, says Mr. Keating.

He said large male bears usually begin to emerge from their slumber in the second half of March. Young bears then emerge from April onwards, and females with their cubs can emerge any time in April or May.

Rising temperatures and increased daylight are signs that it is time to come out of hibernation.

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Boo, a famous grizzly bear living in an enclosure at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, awoke from hibernation last week.

Plus, according to Gord Stenhouse, meltwater acts a bit like an alarm clock, telling bears that spring has arrived . When the sun melts the snow above a bear's den, it creates a shower of sorts, according to the grizzly bear expert.

So what is a bear's first task when it wakes up? Find food. More precisely, vegetation.

In areas where we see green, we can see more bears than #x27;you don't expect it, notes Mr. Stenhouse.

In the Rocky Mountains there are no salmon streams like coastal British Columbia, so in early spring bears concentrate where there is food .

A quote from Gord Stenhouse, scientific researcher specializing in grizzly bears

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Bear No. 122, known as “The Boss,” roams Banff National Park in April 2019. Parks Canada recommends photographers to stay at least 100 meters from animals to ensure their safety.

According to Brian Keating, bears can lose up to a third of their their weight during the winter.

Bears are called "super-hibernants". They do not experience what is called deep hibernation, as do marmots and gophers [who] let their body temperatures drop to one, two or three degrees above the ambient temperature of their den, says Keating.

When bears hibernate, they enter what some call torpor, and their body temperature only drops about 12 degrees from their normal summer body temperature.

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Boo, a famous grizzly bear living in an enclosure at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, awoke from hibernation last week.

Brian Keating explains that a grizzly bear's heart rate drops from 50 beats per minute to about eight, and it usually breathes once every 45 seconds.

They do not get up to pee and do not defecate during the entire hibernation period. They are outstanding recyclers. They recycle all these materials.

A quote from Brian Keating, naturalist

Their body system having been in slow motion for months, their exit from x27;hibernation feels like a lie-in on Sunday. But just because some grizzly bears seem a little dazed doesn't mean they aren't dangerous.

Brian Keating points out that Backcountry hikers should always be prepared for encounters with bears and carry all necessary safety equipment.

They can wake up quickly and start moving around if they need to. They can react immediately.

With information from Lily Dupuis and the shows Calgary Eyeopener and The Homestretch

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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