BLACK BEARS: Denning

Black Bears – Denning

Music; Ambience: black bear cubs

JM: In northern Minnesota, Black Bears have taken to their dens for a rest that’ll see them through the winter months. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

JM: We’re listening to sounds of Black Bear cubs. Bears survive the winter in their dens partly by slowing down their metabolism, and dropping their temperature a few degrees. Now, in Minnesota, the winter lasts from November through the end of March. So how do the bears make it through those long months without getting up for a snack? Well, right before moving into their dens, they’ll do some serious eating and then live off their fat all winter long. Kristina Timmerman, a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota explains:

KT: “Bears eat several types of berries. Blueberries are a big food item, but they’ll also eat choke cherries and huckleberries out west. And then as the different nut crops start coming in there’s a hazelnut crop that they like and then the acorns are an important food source right before they go into denning because it’s such a high fat food so it helps them put on fat. They’ve become eating machines and it’s a physiological technique to allow them to make sure they’re going to get enough to eat to lay down enough fat so that they’ll get through the winter for the next denning season.”

JM: When we usually think of bears in their dens, we imagine them in a deep sleep from fall to spring. But Kristina Timmerman says that’s not the case.

KT: “The bears are not completely out like they’re on drugs while they’re in the den. They can wake up. They’re probably just like us sleeping but they’re just a lower metabolism so they roll over and they make noises. When we go in to check the dens in the winter, we will dart them because they will definitely wake up if we go in there and start trying to haul them out of the den at twenty degrees below zero.”

JM: More on wintering Black Bears in our next program. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

BLACK BEARS: Denning

This month, Minnesota’s Black Bears have taken to their dens to spend the long winter in hibernation.
Air Date:02/16/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

Black Bears - Denning

Music; Ambience: black bear cubs

JM: In northern Minnesota, Black Bears have taken to their dens for a rest that'll see them through the winter months. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

JM: We're listening to sounds of Black Bear cubs. Bears survive the winter in their dens partly by slowing down their metabolism, and dropping their temperature a few degrees. Now, in Minnesota, the winter lasts from November through the end of March. So how do the bears make it through those long months without getting up for a snack? Well, right before moving into their dens, they'll do some serious eating and then live off their fat all winter long. Kristina Timmerman, a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota explains:

KT: "Bears eat several types of berries. Blueberries are a big food item, but they'll also eat choke cherries and huckleberries out west. And then as the different nut crops start coming in there's a hazelnut crop that they like and then the acorns are an important food source right before they go into denning because it's such a high fat food so it helps them put on fat. They've become eating machines and it's a physiological technique to allow them to make sure they're going to get enough to eat to lay down enough fat so that they'll get through the winter for the next denning season."

JM: When we usually think of bears in their dens, we imagine them in a deep sleep from fall to spring. But Kristina Timmerman says that's not the case.

KT: "The bears are not completely out like they're on drugs while they're in the den. They can wake up. They're probably just like us sleeping but they're just a lower metabolism so they roll over and they make noises. When we go in to check the dens in the winter, we will dart them because they will definitely wake up if we go in there and start trying to haul them out of the den at twenty degrees below zero."

JM: More on wintering Black Bears in our next program. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.