Olympic Black Bears

When you arrive at the Dogwood Ridge Trail, you really feel like you’re in the wilderness. All the hubbub of the resort has subsided, all your stresses have melted away, and all that’s left is you, the twittering birds, and a lush thicket of huckleberry bushes. This is why I was not surprised to find fresh bear tracks on the snow-covered trail the other day.

There are many factors that affect a bear’s hibernation, like food availability, temperature, and reproduction cycles. So, a bear at Alderbrook might not hibernate as long as a bear 20 miles away in the colder, more food-scarce Olympic Mountains. Bears aren’t true hibernators because they keep their body temperature fairly stable in order to quickly respond to their environment. Instead, bears enter winter lethargy or denning, which is when they go into a deep sleep and drop their heart rate to just 8 beats per minute.

The region around Alderbrook Resort and Spa is home to the Olympic Black Bear (Ursus americanus altifontalis), which tend to be bigger and blacker compared to other subspecies of black bears. Cubs grow from less than a pound at birth to the size of a Labrador Retriever by the time they are 6 months old. As adults, they are 5-6 feet long, 3 feet tall, and 100-550 pounds. They eat a little bit of everything, like berries, roots, Douglas Fir sap, bugs, and salmon.

It’s good to always keep an eye out for big animals like bears when you are on the trails by looking for scat, tree markings, and tracks. They have good hearing and sight, but their sense of smell is best (seven times better than dogs!) This is why it’s highly unlikely for you to encounter a bear, and if you do, you’ll probably only see its rump as it’s hightailing it away.

Remember to never approach a bear, especially when there are cubs. Don’t try running or climbing a tree to get away. Instead, stay calm, make sure it knows you’re there by pronouncing yourself in a nonthreatening way, and back away slowly while facing it. Keep small children close, consider carrying bear spray, and keep dogs on a short leash.

Nevertheless, the Olympic Black Bear is a keystone species that characterizes the mystical PNW forest with its gorgeous, jet-black fur. Seeing the sophisticated creature makes you feel a part of the wild world we live in. Come reconnect with your wild side at Alderbrook Resort and Spa.

*Bear hug*