Triggered by rising temperatures, two grizzly bears residing atop Grouse Mountain have just awoken from their wintertime summer.
In fact, this is the 17th year Grinder and Coola have emerged from hibernation at the mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.
They were dormant for 153 days this past winter season, just one day longer than last year’s hibernation.
“We’re pleased to welcome Grinder and Coola out of hibernation and watch them playfully explore their habitat”, said Dr. Ken Macquisten, Refuge Director and Veterinarian, in a statement.
“Hibernation through the winter is a natural way for Grizzlies to conserve energy during a time of low food availability. The annual awakening of the massive male Grizzlies signals the onset of spring and summer adventures and we welcome all guests to visit these magnificent animals at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.”
The male bears hibernate inside a specially-designed den, which is monitored by an infrared camera. Footage from the camera is streamed live on the resort’s website.
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 exercise.
Electrified fences will be erected to create a 5.5-acre habitat complete with natural terrain, including a hill with trees and logs, large boulders, 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 17 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.