Spring has sprung, or so the calendar tells us. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and bears are emerging from their long winter’s nap.
But not all bears. One particular bear in Glacier National Park has spent at least two weeks engaging in what appears to be a very groggy process of deciding whether to wake up. If a bear had a snooze button, this one would have walloped it with its paw dozens of times.
We know this because the northern Montana park trained two live cams on the black bear’s den — a cozy-looking hole more than 50 feet up the trunk of a tall cottonwood tree. The park says it first spotted the bear in the hole, a common denning spot, on March 23. Footage since then has captured the bear sleepily gazing into the distance, licking snow off the tree and — very occasionally — stepping out onto a tree limb before returning to its snug shelter.
This is not an action movie. In pace, it resembles Norway’s Slow TV, which broadcasts events like a 134-hour boat voyage and 12 hours of nonstop knitting.
“A black bear rests, looks around, and yawns from a hole in a tree while the camera zooms in,” reads one video description on Glacier’s Facebook page. In the early afternoon on Wednesday, the bear was again languidly lapping moisture from the tree bark.
Nevertheless, the bear’s on-and-off slumber has attracted a robust audience as these things go, park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said. The close-up camera has gotten more than 215,000 views since last week, including nearly 50,000 a day over the weekend, or about 6 percent of all NPS.gov traffic.
On Facebook, where it is highlighting the bear cam, the park has told fans that it does not know the animal’s sex or whether it might have cubs in there. Hibernation, a period when bears conserve energy by holing up and not eating or drinking or defecating, can last six months. Males emerge as early as mid-March, while females with newborn cubs might not venture out until early May, according to the park. And with three feet of snow still at the base of the tree, and high temperatures in the 20s, this bear seems to be in no huge hurry.