Grizzly Bear Hibernation, Diet, and Protection

I hope you all enjoyed our post about grizzly bears on Tuesday, and if you did, we’re glad you’re back! There was so much to say about these amazing creatures that it just couldn’t fit in just one blog post.  I didn’t get a chance to tell you about their hibernation habits, diet, and hopeful news concerning their protection.  With no further ado, let’s get right in with some more grizzly bear information.

Grizzly Bear with Young
Grizzly Mother with Cubs

Something everyone probably knows is that grizzly bears hibernate during the winter. The bears evolved to naturally hibernate due to food shortages and harsh weather. During the hyperphagia, the time in autumn when they must build up their storage of fat, grizzlies spend almost all of their time eating, sometimes gaining as much as three pounds every day. In some Northern-most areas where they live, hibernation can last up to half a year. Bear cubs are born in the winter, and pregnant mother bears hibernate earlier and longer than others. Due to the size and mass of the grizzly bear, their body temperature remains only about 12 degrees (Fahrenheit) below their normal temperature, which permits them to move around quickly at the end of their hibernation in the spring, and to spring into action if they or the cubs should be threatened. Bears also line their dens with bedding, usually branches or duff (vegetation growing under trees), which traps heat and keeps the den warmer. Additionally, rangers in Yellowstone have observed that grizzlies tend to build their dens on slopes facing North, which protects them from the frigid Southwest winds. In America, grizzlies usually leave their dens in the early spring, with the latest being in early May. Most bears don’t stay in the area of their dens for long, except for if they have cubs with them.

You may think of grizzlies as great hunters or as carnivores, but this isn’t true. Most of their diet consists of plants, which they have dug up. It is only in the month following the hibernation that they eat a large quantity of meat, mostly hoofed animals who have died in the winter. Occasionally, grizzlies will hunt the young elk and deer, although their success is not as great as other predators such as wolves. Their success further decreases if they have cubs with them. By mid-summer, their chances of catching large mammals to eat is almost zero. The elk have recovered from the winter and have grown up considerably. Grizzlies eat small ground-dwelling mammals, such as gophers, when they can, but they live primarily on tubers, berries, and greens.

In September of this year, grizzlies were once again placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, not because their number decreased to such an extent over the coarse of the year since they’d been off, but because they should have been protected all along. A species presence on the list of protected species means that hunting of them is strictly prohibited, and the re-listing cancelled a large hunt that had been planned for this fall, so we can breathe a sigh of relief.

If you liked this blog post, maybe you’ll like some of our bear products, too! Head on over to Zazzle or Redbubble to check them out.

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you next time! For now, I’ll leave you with a link to a really interesting video about grizzlies in the wild that I think you’ll find worth your time. Goodbye!


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