There’s a Bear in There!

Canada #14 Grouse Mountain 

Part One

After our fleeting glimpse of grizzly bears at Whistler, it was guaranteed we would see bears on Grouse Mountain – we’d booked a date with them!

We met our first bears at the base of the mountain, in a beautifully detailed wood carving.

Once on board the Skyride gondola we quickly rose up over the forest where early morning mist clung to the treetops. At the top of the mountain, we emerged into brilliant sunshine.

Bear tracks led away from the Peak Chalet uphill to the Grizzly Bear Habitat. We took note of other wildlife we might meet, and hoped that a cougar wouldn’t cross our path.

As if they knew we were coming, Coola and Grinder were waiting outside, enjoying the sunshine in the grizzly bear habitat.

While they munched on chunks of sweet potato, our wildlife ranger Natasha told us how both bears were found in 2001 as tiny cubs, orphaned and starving. They were brought back to health at Grouse Mountain, where they live as close to a normal life as possible in their spacious enclosure, complete with a stream, large pond and forested hideaway. In winter, the bears hibernate inside their comfortable den.

We watched entranced as the bears devoured their breakfast.

Our breakfast was served inside the Grizzly Lookout Café. Leaving the bears to theirs, we enjoyed a delicious buffet which included pastry bear claws and gingerbread bears.

Later in the day, at the end of a nature walk with ranger Phil, we returned to the Grizzly Lookout and he told us more about the bears and their life on the mountain. They have never been tamed and still have all the instincts of wild bears – bad luck for unwary squirrels who manage to get over the fence!

In the 17 years since the bears arrived on the mountain, scientists have studied their habits and lifestyle, gaining knowledge they’ve used to aid bears in the wild. With the help of infrared cameras placed inside the sleeping den, scientists have discovered that hibernation is not a state of deep sleep, as had always been thought. Instead, the bears become dormant, sleeping often but moving around several times during the day, sleep walking for a few minutes or stretching and turning in their beds. Scientists now believe bears remain active to retain their condition over the winter months.

Phil ended his talk on a positive note. Rangers and scientists are hopeful that, with what they have learned from caring for Coola and Grinder, they will be able to return other orphaned cubs to the wild. Long after Phil had gone we continued watching the bears as they splashed in the pond, using sticks like toys and watching us watching them.

On Grouse Mountain, we saw much more than a glimpse of these beautiful bears.

Advertisements

42 thoughts on “There’s a Bear in There!

    • We didn’t know either but it makes sense that the bears need to maintain their muscle tone over winter. We were told they only need about 15 minutes of activity per day to keep in shape. It’s pretty incredible.

    • Ha ha! Yes, we thought it was excellent that the bears have been reared in such a thoughtful way. Phil said the hope is that if they have orphaned cubs again, they can build an enclosure in the forest and gradually remove the fences so the animals can be released.

  1. My idea of checking out bears is reading this post. I’ve never had the desire to get up close and personal with them. 🙂 This looks like an amazing adventure, and I’m glad I got to sit in my chair with my hot coffee and ‘read’ all about it. The word, chicken, comes to mind. 🙂

    • We felt the same way. At the time the bears were found near death, there was no alternative. They are well cared for but definitely not tamed in any way, and what’s been learned can be used to help future bears return to the wild. Their enclosure is also huge so they have plenty of space to wander. I think it is also a great way to educate people about being safe around animals.

  2. You had me there… When I read the title I thought I was going to read about real bears, then I saw the carved ones and thought you’d been very clever with your title. 🙂 Then… you really did see real bears! 😀 What a fabulous place to visit and to see the great work that is being done to help the bears.

  3. It seems strange for us north-west Europeans to be walking somewhere where there are so many large predators. I would imagine one feels a little nervous, especially when you read in the media of attacks on hikers by cougars or bears. Lovely animals though, those grizzlies.

  4. So heartwarming and wonderful and your photographs are incredible ~ I love the way one can see all the wet fur in clumps in such detail. Magnificent creatures and it makes me so happy to see them enjoying their lives so much.

    Peta

  5. That’s so interesting about hibernation. But imagine how stiff they’d be if they stayed in the exact same position all winter. I love the photo of the bear among the tree roots. I’m glad the researchers hope to be able to release any future orphan bears into the wild.

    • We thought so too. No one had ever been able to observe hibernation before so they were able to prove that the bears don’t stay in one place all the time. Phil told us they would build a similar enclosure in the forest and gradually remove the fence in the future. Mr ET took that lovely photo. Thanks, Susi.

  6. Pingback: Showtime! | The Eternal Traveller

  7. Pingback: Knowledge Gained | The Eternal Traveller

Please share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.