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Warm weather causing bears to waken

Published On: Jan 28 2013 03:02:28 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 28 2013 10:29:03 PM CST

Instead of hibernating, bears have been spotted wandering around the Colorado Springs area. Experts it is rare, but not uncommon to see bears awake during winter.

Bear spotting have been reported in southern Colorado, during a time when most bears should be hibernating. 

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson, Michael Seraphin, while this is rare, it does happen occasionally.

“Typically we’re not going to see bears because they’ll all be in their dens.  But, on a warm day in the wintertime, occasionally a bear will come out and do a little walk-around and then go back into the den,” said Seraphin.

Seraphin said the waking of the bears cannot be fully blamed on the weather, but there is a link.

“Something disturbed it … or maybe it just decided it was time to go out and see if it was spring yet.  That part’s still a mystery,” said Seraphin.

Seraphin said waking early does not harm the bear, nor will it impact their behavior during the spring.

According to Seraphin, bears are not true hibernators.  They do enter into a state of torpor, which is a state of decreased physical activity.  Torpor is caused by a reduced body temperature and rate of metabolism.

“Hibernation refers to a season of inactivity characterized by low body temperature, slow breathing and heart rate, and low metabolic rate. Although traditionally reserved for true hibernators such as small rodents, the term has been used interchangeably to include animals such as bears, even though their body temperature and metabolic rate do not drop enough to be considered deep hibernators,” Seraphin clarified.

If a bear is spotted, residents are to keep their distance and are asked not to disturb the bear.


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