​​​2 Minutes in the Yellowstone Ecosystem
Episode 3: The Bears are Up    
27 April 2018
Over the last month or two, bears all over the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have been digging out of their dens and blinking at the bright spring sunlight. This week, we talk about hibernation and bear safety.
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Transcript

JENNY>> Welcome to Two Minutes in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, sponsored by the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary. Now here’s your host, Gary Robson:

GARY>> Over the last month or two, bears all over the greater Yellowstone ecosystem have been digging out of their dens and blinking at the bright spring sunlight.

[bear sounds]

LES>> A little bit of the snow, too.

GARY>> Pretty much just like you, too.
The bears at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary started waking up a couple of months ago, actually. On average, the bears around here hibernate for about five months. The females like to get another three weeks or so.

LES>> Yeah, that sounds like the ladies.

GARY>> The “deep” hibernators like chipmunks, they have to wake up every so often to eat & drink — a couple of times a week, actually — but did you know that when bears are hibernating, they don’t eat, they don’t drink, they don’t poop?

LES>> I did not know that.

GARY>> They recycle those metabolic wastes into protein — and don’t you wish you could do this? —they lose 15-30% of their body mass from fat while they’re hibernating, and they still gain muscle mass.

LES>> Hmmm. We need to do that!

GARY>> Yeah, I want to gain muscle mass while I sleep.

If you do find a bear den, they don’t hibernate like the chipmunks. If you go poking in there, they will wake up! They react to danger much more quickly, and you look pretty dangerous.

Living and vacationing in bear country means being aware of bear safety. Don’t put out attractants – keep your food in bear-safe containers; keep your garbage in bear-resistant cans. Don’t approach the bears! When hiking in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, you don’t want to surprise a bear.

LES>> That’s for sure.

GARY>> A startled bear is a dangerous bear. The best way to deal with it is hike in groups of three or more. If you see a grizzly, don’t make eye contact. Make noise. Don’t run; back away slowly. Bears fresh out of hibernation are looking for a bit of easy food. If you see an animal carcass, stay away from it. There could well be a bear hanging out near there looking for something to eat.

Carry bear spray and don’t put it in your pack! Put it on your belt, put it on a chest strap, but keep it where you can get at it. You have to be able to pull it fast, but it doesn’t require precise aim like a gun. Just point it down a bit and make a big thick cloud of fog.

Don’t spray it on the kids before you go out hiking! It’s not a preventative. The bears just call that “seasoning.”

LES>> Not like mosquito spray! It doesn’t work that way.

GARY>> Nope! Commercial airliners don’t allow that bear spray on board, by the way. If you’re visiting the area, you bought yourself some bear spray, and you need to find a way to get rid of it before you go, don’t just toss it in the trash. You can drop it off at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary for recycling. And that, by the way, is a great place to see bears up close, in complete safety!

LES>> All righty. Thanks, Gary!

JENNY>> Thanks for joining us for Two Minutes in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, sponsored by the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary in Red Lodge, Montana. This podcast updates every Friday on iTunes  and the Sanctuary’s website, YellowstoneWildlifeSanctuary.org.

Thanks to our recording partners at FM99: the Mountain , where you can hear this show live every Wednesday at 8:22 a.m.

I’m your announcer, Jenny Van Ooyen, and I hope you’ll join me next week for another episode of Two Minutes in the Yellowstone Ecosystem

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