As the days shorten and get colder during the months of September and October, you can tell winter is on the way- and so can the WSU bears. It’s not unusual to see some of our bears, especially those that came to our facility from the Yellowstone Ecosystem, begin to exhibit behaviors indicative of hibernation preparation. Often during this time of the year appetites will dwindle and individuals will gather and drag debris like grass and bark inside their permanent den areas signaling their desire to make a cozy bed. Our more industrious residents will take it upon themselves to start constructing their own den out in the exercise yard.
Seen in the video is Oakley, an 18 year old female, making good progress in late October on a den initially started by two of our adult males about a week prior to hibernation officially beginning. The other adult females appear to be content to watch her work. While it is very impressive to observe the bears dig, ultimately annual hibernation occurs inside their structurally sound and camera-equipped artificial dens, located inside the Bear Center facility.