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Colorado Springs couple gets rare visit from bear during hibernation season

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Posted at 4:08 PM, Dec 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 18:09:01-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Bears are supposed to be sleeping this time of year, or so a Colorado Springs couple thought before spotting one on their back porch.

The black bear, thought to be around 120 pounds, was spotted trying to feast on seeds from two bird feeders at a home south of Colorado Springs, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.

It’s true – most bears are now sleeping as they enjoy their fruits of their labor until about April, but the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife (CPAW) warns that some are still active and will come down if humans live near their natural habitat.

"When their natural food source dies off, they know it's time to go in,” CPAW spokesperson Kyle Davidson told the Gazette. “But if they live by a neighborhood where they have access to food, some of them will keep coming out to get that evening snack.”

The Gazette reports the bear was scared off after one of the homeowners, John Grewe, threw a stone at a garbage bin that the bear was trying to feast on.

Davidson said scaring the bear was the right thing to do – for its safety.

Why bears hibernate

As we all know, bears hibernate not because it gets too cold for them to roam free during the winter months, but because their source of food is lacking during this time.

Female bears also have their cubs during hibernation – mothers nurse their babies in the den until spring arrives.

But did you know bears do not go into complete hibernation? That's right, their body temperature drops to about 88 degrees Fahrenheit (their normal temperature being 100-101 degrees Fahrenheit), in order for them to react quicker to impending danger.

Bears do not urinate or defecate during hibernation – all that waste turns into proteins, which the bear absorbs back into its body during the winter.

The pads on a bear’s paws will peel off during hibernation to make room for new tissue – a form of skin shedding, if you will.

When bears emerge from hibernation, they are in what wildlife officials call “walking hibernation,” and will appear to be drunk for several weeks until their bodies get back to normal.

A bear can lose between 25 to 40 percent of their body weight during hibernation.

All of the above information comes from Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

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