Washington's Black And Grizzly Bears Prepare For Winter Hibernation
With the arrival of autumn in the Northwest, residents are urged to take a few extra precautions if they live or recreate in bear country. It’s the time of year when both black and grizzly bears prepare for their winter denning by binge eating or “hyperphagia”. Bears must consume a lot of calories before entering their dens for 5 to7 months of hibernation. Sufficient fat stores make the difference in whether a bear and her cubs will survive until spring.
As natural edibles become scarce with the season, bears will come down into lower elevations in search of food, occasionally showing up in people’s backyards. A bear’s sense of smell is incredibly well developed. They can detect human sources of food such as unsecured garbage, birdseed in feeders, rotting fruit on orchard floors and pet food left outdoors over great distances. Such easy pickings represent a lot of free calories. Unfortunately, this unnatural interaction between humans and bears can lead to conflict.