Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bear Facts and Winter Dreaming

Will snow accumulate on a black bear's back?    We often think of hibernating bears as being tucked away inside some cozy cave, with wifi, popcorn and a stack of movies to get them through the winter months, but in actual fact they will frequently den up in the most (to us) open and exposed of locations.  This photo shows a three year old female black bear in an open den.  These are often created by a windfall bringing down a tree and leaving a hole where the roots were. Sometimes they can be a tangle of logs, or an overhanging boulder, anything, really, that will provide some protection from the wind.

And yes, snow accumulates on black bears at ambient temperatures below approximately 19 degrees F.

The temperature when this photo was taken was 9 degrees F, (-13 C).  The last time it snowed was six days earlier.  Her head is to the right, tucked under her chin. That is so she can breathe warm air onto her cubs that were born in mid-January.  That's right -- right now is when the black bear cubs are making their first appearance on the Stage of Life.   They will stay curled up in the warm fur of their mom, protected from the elements, and all snuggly. Mom wakes up to clean and cuddle, then drifts back into her winter sleep while the cubs burrow under her fur to find the milk-bar.

Black bears have two kinds of fur on their backs -- visible guard hairs about three inches long and, in winter, a hidden layer of fine underfur so dense that water can scarcely penetrate it.  This underfur is so insulative that bears in the open become covered with snow when ambient temperatures are colder than about 18 F (-8C).  The exact temperature at which snow accumulates varies with individuals. These coats not only keep the cold and wet away from the bear, but keep the bear's body temperature in. Under the snow, under the thick coat, they are warm and dry.

Some bears have longer, denser fur than others  Body temperature also varies with individuals -- during hibernation, fat bears usually maintain a body temperature between 95 and 99 F, while skinny bears can reduce body temperatures to as low as 88 to ration fat reserves.

When out in the woods in winter, whenever I find one of these blow-downs or a big tangle of tree trunks, I am always on the lookout in case there is a bear in there.  If they are covered with snow, that lovely white mound will contain a small breathing hole.  And if you think you might have found one, keep away.  Bears can (and do) wake up quite swiftly from hibernation if they need to, and they aren't happy about it.

Thank you Mike McIntosh, from Bear With Us Sanctuary, for the bear facts!!!


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