Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hungry Bears

With elk and wolves at historically low levels in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem biologists remain optimistic grizzly bears emerging from winter dens will still find plenty to eat.

While the mild winter had some bears out and about as early as mid-February most will start leaving dens sometime this month. Older males usually emerge first as early as March 1 with younger males and finally females with cubs later.

Despite fewer elk and thus fewer wolf kills there are still plenty of leftovers, especially in the park for bears to scavenge. Last fall's whitebark pine nut crop was the largest in recent years and many of the nuts remain. One traditional food bears won't find in abundance this spring are cutthroat trout running out of Yellowstone Lake to spawn...thank the dim witted bucket biologist(s)who stupidly decided lake trout would be a good fit for that.

Again thanks to the mild winter and low snowpack there's a good chance the high country will green up earlier than usual providing hungry bears much needed greens to help balance out the protein diet.

Bears actually come out less hungry than some think. Groggy and lethargic after a long winter's nap it takes awhile for the engines to rev giving the big omnivores plenty of time to scout out potential food sources before hunger pangs reach critical mass.

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