It was back to the grind for a pair of popular residents of Grouse Mountain on Tuesday, as the mountain’s two grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola, were greeted with cheers and applause as they emerged from another winter hibernation.
This concludes the bears’ 18th hibernation period at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.
During their 128-day winter dormancy, wildlife rangers once again monitored Grinder and Coola via an infrared camera placed in their hibernation den and the live feed was shared with the public on Grouse Mountain’s website.
“It’s always a pleasure to welcome Grinder and Coola out of hibernation and watch them playfully explore their habitat,” said Dr. Ken Macquisten, Refuge Director and Veterinarian. “Hibernation through the winter is a natural way for grizzlies to conserve energy during a time of low food availability.”
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.
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,” he added.
Regarded as two of the most popular residents at the Peak of Vancouver, the grizzly bears, named Grinder and Coola, originally came to Grouse Mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife in 2001, when they were rescued after being orphaned during separate incidents in Bella Coola and Invermere.
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 18 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.