Bears in the
As the summer season ends, the air becomes crisp, leaves change and fall from trees, and bears become more active. They’re on the hunt for food. During the fall months, bears eat and drink nearly nonstop. They need to put on weight to prepare for winter and hibernation. This process is called hyperphagia.
During hyperphagia, bears are very active and many visitors have a chance to see them in action. But do not feed the bears! Bears that eat human food can lose their preference for natural food sources and their fear of humans. Make sure to always practice bear safety when storing food.
Most bears enter into a lighter state of sleep, known as torpor during the winter months to help conserve energy and protect themselves from the winter elements. The length of denning depends on location, and can vary from a few days or weeks to a few months or more.
Bears make their dens in hollow trees or logs, under the root mass of a tree, in rock crevices, or even high in a tree in warmer climates. During their slumber, bears’ bodies drop in body temperature, pulse rate and respiration. Their bodies use the fat they stored in summer and fall as energy.
Pregnant bears will give birth to their cubs in the den, most likely within the first two months of hibernation. The family will remain in the den for the duration of winter while the mother sleeps and the cubs nurse and grow. In the spring, when the snow begins to melt, the bears will wake up and emerge from their den in search of food again.
Something to keep in mind during the winter months is that if the cold temperature breaks and becomes warmer bears sometimes do get up and might hunt for food. Just remember to always be safe in bear country regardless of the season.