Bears emerging from dens 2 weeks ahead of schedule

Spring is arriving early across much of the Yukon, prompting bears to wake up earlier than usual. A Yukon carnivore biologist, said she's had report of bears that have already left their dens.

Adult males den at lower elevations and are roused by water seeping into their dens, says biologist

A grizzly bear travels a Yukon roadside in 2015. (Environment Yukon)

Spring is arriving early across much of the Yukon, prompting bears to wake up from their winter slumber earlier than usual. 

Ramona Maraj, a Yukon carnivore biologist, said there have been reports and signs that some adult male bears have left their dens. 

"In various places of the southern part of the Yukon, they're already out," she said in an interview with A New Day.

"The males come out around March 15, anyway, and so they're just about two weeks early." 

Maraj said warmer weather causes meltwater to seep into the dens. That acts like an alarm clock.

"They're not too happy to sit in a pool of water while they're trying to hibertnate." 

Males typically den at lower elevations, so they're the first to wake up. Maraj said they'll be followed by the lone females, who den closer to treeline. The mothers with cubs den at the highest elevations and typically come out in May and June, when berry season is starting. 

Maraj expects all of the bear groups to emerge a bit earlier than usual this year. 

Bears that are awake now will be munching on grasses and sedges and perhaps scavenging for a frozen moose or sheep carcass, said Maraj. 

With files from A New Day

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.