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Name: Chris H.
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 3/26/2004

We are vacationing near Breckenridge, Colorado, and we wondered if the black bears are still hibernating. This area usually has long, cold winters, but this year spring came early - as of March 23rd, the high temperature here today will be in the mid-50's. Our question is whether or not the bears will awaken earlier due the unusually warm weather, or are they "programmed" to wake up around the same time each year, regardless of the weather that year?

The answer is yes to both "programmed" and "weather dependent." Most hibernating animals have a sort of internal clock that partly determines length of hibernation, but most are also sensitive to unusual weather. Bears are rather light sleepers, and might be more subject to weather influence than some other animals. As for specific timing in Colorado, you should ask a local wildlife expert - I am writing from Illinois!

J. Elliott

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