Golden might have a new weather forecaster. He’s on the larger end of the scale at about 650 pounds (he’ll be 750 or so by the time he’s done bulking up for the winter) but he has a proven track record and only a fool would argue with him face to face.
Boo, the only resident of Kicking Horse’s Grizzly Bear Refuge, began to make his den for the winter on August 13, about a month before he would typically do so.
He usually starts building his den in mid-September and the last time he built his winter shelter this early was in 2010. The winter that followed was long, cold and snowy. Ross Prather, manager at the refuge, believes this is a sign that a snowy winter is ahead of us.
Despite the work that Boo puts into his home every year, the staff at the refuge lure him into an artificially made den. A small camera inside the artificial den allows staff to keep track of his health throughout the winter.
Having been orphaned from a very young age, the staff at the refuge were very excited when Boo began to build a shelter on his own, indicating that denning is instinctual rather than a learned trait.
There was a definite learning curve for the grizzly as his den collapsed the first couple of years before he perfected it as he got older and wiser.
The potential for a cold, snowy winter will have little effect on Boo as he will be in a state of dormancy (similar to hibernation) from about the middle of November to the middle of April.