What Do Bears Do in Dens? - UPDATE December 19, 2018

What does a bear do when it wakes up in late December? It looks drowsy and goes back to sleep. If it has a lot of straw, it might wriggle deeper as Taught caught in this 3:37 minute video of Holly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsnyz9qatd4. Mink StripeMink with stripe

Bears are masters of overwinter survival. Black bears around Ely spend 5-7½ months of each year in dens with nearly 100% survival. They lose 15-25% of their body weight keeping their body temperatures within 12 degrees of their summer temperature of 100 degrees through months of bitter cold. Mothers nursing cubs born in January lose about a third of their body weight by the time they emerge in April.

Mink with stripeMink with stripeMink still have to eat in winter, and they are clever at finding food. All four mink visitors know to go to the door when I get up out of my chair. Gulls learned the same thing, but they flew to the usual feeding spot. The mink stand up looking in the full length glass. There are four. One is a big mink with a clear patch on his chin and a narrow line down his throat. One of the medium sized mink has a clear spot on its chin and blotches of white on its throat. The other medium sized one let me get a picture today of its white chin spot with two wide brown stripes through it and no white on the throat. The fourth mink is much smaller, probably a female, and hasn’t let me see her chin and throat that well yet. All four cautiously approach and then quickly snap the bologna that I hold with my fingers well back. They are accurate and trustworthy with their snaps. Those moments are the highlights of most days. Today, the highlights were sharing some of those moments with Donna, which is what we will also do on Christmas.

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center