Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

More hibernating bear action

K and I had a glorious hike, under bluebird skies with towering snowy mountains watching over us. I spent almost the whole hike without my neck brace, and I can literally feel my neck muscles relearning how to control my head movements. The docs and PT have emphasized that important muscles for controlling my head motion were cut during my fusion surgery. As the muscles heal, my body must relearn how to use them. In any case, I can feel that process speeding along.

K had to use her neck muscles to look over her shoulder at the view today.Then, K impishly surveyed the top of Hug Hill and created a new trick. I love when she takes initiative and then looks so proud of herself!After returning from our hike and completing my indoor bike ride, I spent hours researching bear hibernation. I'll save the fun details for later since I'm short of time today but I'd like to finish recounting our den visit from yesterday.

First, yesterday I thought that I hadn't seen a trace of the yearling cub. However, upon closer examination of my first photo into the bear den, I realized that I could see the yearling cub in the background. In fact, Stella alerted me to it, by pointing out that she'd seen a pair of eyes when she magnified the photo. When I looked hard, I felt certain that it was the cub's eyes and not the mom's. Part of the reason is that mom has lost the fur around her eyes (see yesterday's photos) probably due to a common dermatitis that some bears get during hibernation. The eyes visible in the photo below don't have the same tan circles around them as the mom's eyes have. Click on the photo to magnify it.As we approached the den yesterday, we realized that a bear had walked out of the den (upper right corner of photo) very recently. Paw prints tromped out and a spot of deep yellow urine had melted a tunnel down into the snow. Deep yellow indicates a lack of hydration but the fact that the bear urinated at all is surprising. Yes, now I have photos of urine on my blog as well as scat - more ammunition for my funny friends.Bear's bodies have special tricks to recycle the toxins that are usually excreted in urine so that bears can go all winter without drinking or urinating. I'm a little surprised that the sow has been eating snow and peeing. I'm going to do more research to find out if scientists have observed that some bears do these things during hibernation - so far I haven't found reports of bears getting up to pee.

In the video below, the sow emerges from the den on the evening after a warm day. Because of the darkness, she spotted the red light emitted by my infrared camera. She seemed rattled by the new sight. However, after exiting the den very cautiously, she took care of business. It fascinated me how she walked to almost the identical spot to urinate as on 2/17/10, propping her hind paws on a log so that her urine didn't soil her fur. I wonder if she's used this den for a number of years and has figured out the ideal routine for a quick pee outside the den.

Now, I must patiently wait, letting our bears hibernate in peace. Believe it or not, that waiting is hard for me - I love being in the presence of the powerful bear souls.


  1. I would have a hard time resisting walking by the den, too! Curiosity and all that! Maybe your bear is diabetic. How much longer do you expect the bears to hibernate? Maybe it's a slow wake up stage!

    I love that shot of K on her pedestal!

  2. I've always been very captivated by bears -

    I guess it goes back to my childhood days of trips to The Great Smokey Mountains and seeing them so close to us -

    It is so interesting to see her so upclose and 'personal' too -

    Between her and Khyra's snow eating, I'm tempted to go out for some of my own whilst we still have some out there!

    Again, thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm not sure which is more remarkable - these videos or the lions'!

    It seems you may be on to something here with this bear sow's habits - you never know, maybe you'll be re-writing bear history with the discovery of that urine spot outside the den.

    It sounds like you had a good day today - just from your post, I can tell that your spirits are pretty high. Good for you and K.

  4. This video was really very good, wasn't it? What will the scat boys say to see Mom Bear in the act of peeing right before their very eyes!

    I didn't see the eyes you saw in your photo today. I just saw Mom's from yesterday. Big Snout, and eyes.

    This is getting more fun right along, KB, you and your darling dog are showing us good things!

    Jo and Stella

  5. Woof! Woof! What an interesting Saturday hike adventure. Glad to hear you felt sensation on your neck muscle. Oh! Bear video. Thanks for sharing. BTW: LOVE your photo header. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  6. So esciting to see. I now have my husband hooked on watching this. He thinks you are one very brave woman.

  7. Is it weird that we are fascinated by watching a bear pee? It'd be interesting to hear what some bear specialist has to say about whether this bear's behavior is typical or could something be amiss with her.

  8. Fascinating video. The bear looks stiff. It sure did look like she was looking directly in the camera. I believe you!!!

  9. I know that denning black bears have low insulin levels with complex mechanisms to compensate. Wonder if your bear is not compensating and the snow eating for water and the urination while denning means she has symptoms of diabetes as houndstooth mentioned. I do hope she is fine since spring is just around the corner.

    What a beautiful thing she is.

  10. It really doesn't seem as though she could be receiving too much moisture from the small amount of snow she's eating. She really keeps it brief - takes care of business and then goes back to sleep. Great footage, KB! Keep healing.

  11. Incredible! My husband thoroughly enjoyed watching this with me. It's a very healing thing to be able to watch something like this and totally escape reality for a few minutes.


If you are a Blogger registered user, you can skip the step asking you to verify that you are not a spammer. For posts older than 5 days, I have comment moderation turned on.

Thanks for your comments!!!!!