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PlanetSKI encounters a grizzly bear - James Cove, Kicking Horse
Friday April 15, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

The bear in question, Boo, has just come out of hibernation in the ski resort of Kicking Horse in British Columbia.

Boo is 14 years old, weighs in at 850lb and stands more than 6.5 feet tall. 

Seeing a fully-grown Grizzly in his natural environment is certainly one of the most spectacular sights I have seen in a ski resort.

Or anywhere else for that matter.

In the end I had to wait a couple of hours in a special viewing area to see him move about, but it was well worth it.

To begin with he was a large ball of fur in the distance.

Boo the bearBoo the bear
















Then the ball of fur began doing what I can only describe as some light gymnastics - stretching and exercising.

Boo the bearOn his back
















Boo the bearOn his side
















Boo the bearPaying attention to stretching the legs out
















And then Boo decided on a little stroll in my general direction.

Boo the bearUp and away

















Boo the bearA full size male grizzly
















Boo the bearBoo the bear
















Boo lives in the special enclosure in the resort after his mother was shot in June 2002 by a poacher when he was just 5-months old.

Back then orphaned bear cubs were put down by Park Wardens as they had no chance of survival in the wild.

Instead Boo, and his brother Cari (named after where they were found - the Cariboo Mountains) were taken into a special programme to try to ensure their survival. 

Cari died, but Boo lives on. 

Boo the bearThe bear refuge
















And it has led to a special programme in British Columbia where orphaned cubs are looked after and then released into the wild.

19 have been successfully released into their natural environment. 

Boo though would not stand a chance now as he has had too much human contact and care.

"Boo has become an ambassador for his species and we have been able to study his development and learn much about the grizzly bear," said his warden and carer, Ross Prather.

Boo the bearRos Prather
















Some people see Boo as a captive bear, but without the programme he would have died. 

He has escaped twice but always returned.

"He lives in a 20 acre compound surrounded by an electric fence and we try to make it as near natural as possible. He finds most of his own food here and we supplement it, but we bury the meat and he has to find it himself, but 80% of his diet is plants and berries that grow here naturally," added Ross.

Boo the bearRoss and Boo
















Boo the bearBoo the bear

















- It is legal to hunt them in British Columbia, but not in Alberta.  EU rules prevent European hunters bringing their skins or bodies back as trophies.

- It is estimated there are around 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia alone, but no-one knows for sure.

- If a bear charges the worst thing to do is run as they can travel at speeds of up to 40km/hr. You need to remain clam, stand tall, and the chances are it will stop, look at you and then wander off.

- They can grow to 8.5 feet tall and weigh up to 1,200lb. Their sense of smell is 75 times more sensitive than a blood hound.

- They mainly eat planets and berries and do not growl, expect when in Hollywood movies.

-  They hibernate from November through to April, but often they are little more than dozing and they sometimes wake up, wander around and then go back to sleep.

Boo began his hibernation on November 5th 2015 when he weighed 850llbs - he emerged on April 5th 2016 weighing 600llbs.

Boo the bearBoo the bear
















Boo the bearBoo the bear
















And then Boo retreated into the woods out of sight.

I had been lucky as sometimes he rests and plays in his 20 acres away from human eyes.

It is not everyday you see a grizzly bear when out for a day's skiing! Smile

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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