It’s officially fall, which means black bears and other bear species around the country have entered hyperphagia, in which their daily caloric intake dramatically increases in preparation for the long months of hibernation.
Depending on the region and availability of food, bears can eat up to 20,000 calories per day and drink several gallons of water, fattening themselves up as much as possible before the arrival of winter. Their winter preparations also include finding the perfect home to keep themselves and their cubs safe from the elements while they rest for as long as eight months.
This can mean a cave, a hallowed out tree cavity, under logs or rocks, or in banks or shallow depressions. And in a black bear’s mind, the crawlspace of a human’s home also fits the bill perfectly.
This video of a black bear hiding in the crawl space of a California home was shared by BEAR League, a conservation group who explained that he or she was doing so in preparation for hibernation. “We find the crawl spaces under your homes and cabins to be the absolute most perfect winter accommodations imaginable,” they wrote from the perspective of the sleepy bears.
“It’s out of the wind, quiet, dark, cave-like, dry, and dogs don’t bother us,” they continued. “All of us bears know there is most often a great opportunity under almost every human dwelling. If we can get under there, we crawl in, scout it out–and if we like it–we redecorate so it’s ‘just right.'”
“This means redesigning some of the duct-work, moving a few plumbing and gas lines, digging a nest, and borrowing most of the insulation to use as bedding.”
Black Bear Conservation Group Recommends Securing Crawl Space Openings
According to BEAR League, leaving your crawl space easily accessible during winter is essentially laying out a welcome mat for local black bears. Because of this, they recommend sealing any crawl space openings now, before bears begin their search for a hibernation space.
“Every winter, there are more and more bears who den under our homes and cabins,” the conservation group explained. “Flimsy doors or a board propped in front of the openings Do Not keep bears out.”
“All winter long, the BEAR League receives frantic calls from homeowners when they realize they have a very large ‘guest’ under their kitchen, living room or bedroom,” they continued. “Last winter alone, we awakened and moved almost 100 bears from crawl spaces in the Tahoe and Truckee areas, many were in South Lake Tahoe. (Some people insisted the bears could stay if there were no utilities they could damage).”
“We do not evict Mama Bears who are due to give birth… that is illegal, thank God,” BEAR League wrote. “Rather than having a bear possibly cause a huge amount of damage we strongly recommend securing your crawl space openings now… Before a bear goes in.”