With temperatures warming up over the past few weeks, the pair of male resident grizzly bears atop Grouse Mountain have been increasingly restless in their hibernation den. And just this morning, they decided it was time to emerge from their long winter slumber.
Mountain operators say Grinder and Coola had a 152-day winter dormancy, which is slightly longer than last year’s hibernation period of 146 days. They had a significantly shorter hibernation in 2015 due to record warm temperatures, emerging out of their den in early-March – more than a month earlier than usual.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Grinder and Coola out of their 16th hibernation period and watch them playfully explore their habitat”, said Dr. Ken Macquisten, Refuge Director and Veterinarian with Grouse Mountain. “The annual awakening of the massive male Grizzlies signals the coming of summer adventures and we are pleased to invite guests to visit us at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.”
Over the coming weeks, mountain operators will expand the refuge into its annual summertime size by turning ski terrain into a large enclosure for the bears to roam around and explore.
Electrified fences will be erected to create a 5.5-acre habitat complete with natural terrain including a hill with trees and logs, rocks, a large pond, and open grassy areas.
After being deemed unreleasable by federal officials, Grinder and Coola began living at the mountain in 2001 when they were just small orphan cubs. While they get along well with each other and are often seen playing together, they are not brothers.
The circumstances of Grinder’s family when he was orphaned are not known, but he was found weak weighing just 4.5 kg. On the other hand, Coola’s mother and two siblings were killed following a collision on a highway near Bella Coola.
Both bears turned 16 years old during their most recent hibernation. In the wild, male grizzly bears have an average lifespan of 22 years while females live to about 26 years.