This time of the year, bears are eagerly looking for fruit and fish to fill their bellies before winter rolls around. Their internal clocks are telling them winter is coming and because of this they institutionally will start to gorge themselves knowing winter = less food. The goal for each bear is to gain as much weight as possible to have sufficient energy stores to sustain themselves until spring. You see, winter means less food for a bear.
Typically bears hibernate from the fall to the spring; however, bear hibernation is not the same worldwide—it varies depending on the individual bear, on the species of bear, the location they are living, and the food availability. Each geographic location will vary in terms of the growing season and natural food abundance. For example, a polar bear living in the Arctic will likely have a longer hibernation than a black bear living in Sooke. Our growing season is a lot longer here and thus bears may not enter hibernation until November or December.
We often hear people say that bears do not hibernate in Sooke but in fact, bears SHOULD be hibernating in Sooke.
Let me explain.
Hibernation is not an irreversible state and there is no rule to say an animal cannot wake from hibernation. Much like humans, who mostly sleep at night, there is no rule to say we MUST sleep through the night. Sometimes we may wake periodically; same with bears. This could account for some sightings of local black bears in the winter.
Another possible reason we may see a black bear in the winter in Sooke is due to UNnatural food sources. Like I said previously, bears will hibernate when natural food sources run low. Unnatural food sources, however, can prevent bears from entering hibernation. It is always important for people to secure things that may attract bears, but especially in the fall. A bear who is given the opportunity to get into garbage or livestock in the fall will turn into a habituated bear reliant on unnatural food in the winter.
Wild Wise is here to help neighbours secure their attractants in hopes that bears will enter their natural cycle of entering hibernation and avoid habituation.
For more information, please reach out to wild wise: email@example.com
Sam Webb – Community Coordinator
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