Has Spanky Left His Den for Good? - UPDATE April 12, 2021

After a day-long jaunt on April 10, Spanky entered his den at 7:39 PM and slept most of the time until 12 minutes after midnight. Then he left—for good? He has now been away a little over 45 hours.Spanky's viewSpanky's view

It seems time that he should leave. It’s the time males usually leave in early to mid April, and with the snow all but gone it is unusually easy for bears to travel this year.

I checked the den area yesterday and saw that he had been scent-marking and scratching a 5-inch diameter red pine about 20 feet from his den entrance. Males emerge with full testosterone. I believe he is cruising the area looking for food and females. Aspen catkins that were a month early to burst are now fully developed at a time when catkins are usually not available. This early food has about 12-14 percent protein and is an early spring bear food, usually in late April to mid May.

With the snow gone, he can’t get water by eating snow near his den. Instead, he will drink from lakes and melt-water puddles as he roams. I believe the comfortable bed that he returned to a couple days ago is being replaced by the other amenities of the forest. With the snow gone, he can easily find other places to rest—maybe a soft patch of moss.

At least a few other bears are up and out. One local bear-feeder has had 7 bears so far. Another has had one. I’ve not seen one yet. I wish we had a radio-collar on Spanky to flesh out the rest of his story.

If Spanky does not return overnight, we will dismantle the camera tomorrow.

I am thankful for this first opportunity to document the activities of a mature male that the much appreciated den watchers are making possible. We now know more about Spanky’s activities in the den and we will be able to fill in a few more details from the archived video. There is much to learn and publish.

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