Spring has definitely arrived and bears across the Pacific Northwest are emerging out of hibernation.
The awakenings of Grinder and Coola, the two resident grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, are no exception. They were already restless in their den throughout February, when abnormally mild temperatures hit the South Coast, and this led to the decision to open the den doors on March 6 – more than a month earlier than their 2014 emergence.
This was also the earliest springtime date that both animals have had access to their entire 5.5-acre summer habitat, which consists of ponds, hills, trees, fields and large rocks.
Every spring ahead of Grinder and Coola’s anticipated awakenings, Grouse Mountain crews erect electric fencing on ski hill terrain near the base of the Peak Chair Lift to provide the bears with a habitat enclosure. A non-existent snow pack throughout the late-winter and early-spring months allowed crews to set-up the habitat quickly for this year.
When snow arrives and the bears’ hibernation cycle begins, the fencing is dismantled and stored away for the next season’s use.
Both bears are orphans and have lived at Grouse Mountain since 2001. Grinder weighed just 4.5 kg when he was orphaned while Coola’s mother and siblings were killed after a crash on a highway near Bella Coola.