June 26, 2008 | Tips from Travellers >
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Wildlife Tours
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On a recent trip to Golden, I came face-to-face with a grizzly bear. A huge, hairy and – from what I could tell – hungry grizzly bear.
View a larger image on flickr.com
Luckily for me, though, this bear was also behind a fence. And he seemed too preoccupied with a peanut to notice me standing fifteen feet away.
I never thought I’d see a grizzly bear use the back of his plate-sized paw as a platter while he delicately crunched a peanut shell to get to the nuts inside. But, I saw this – and much more – on a Grizzly Refuge Tour at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
The Grizzly Refuge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is home to Boo, a grizzly that was orphaned as a cub. Boo's refuge, located right on the ski hill, is approximately twenty acres – the largest protected and enclosed grizzly habitat in the world.
Our small tour group rode the chairlift to reach the refuge and to meet Jubilee, an expert on Boo and all things grizzly. Jubilee gave us a run-down of how the refuge tour works; basically, Boo does whatever he wants to do.
On this particular day, Boo decided that he wanted hang out near the perimeter of the fence, which meant I could see a grizzly doing grizzly things: rubbing up against a favourite tree, splashing in a large pool of water, and foraging for food.
Boo forages for naturally occurring food in the refuge, but his diet is also supplemented to make sure he gets all the nutrients he needs. So, in addition to roots and grasses, he looks for nuts, fruits, veggies and meat that the bear experts toss over the fence or drop from the gondola (which stretches over his enclosure).
Throughout the Grizzly Refuge Tour, we wandered alongside the fence while Jubilee gave a running commentary on Boo and bears in general. She was very open to answering all of our bear questions, and taught us some neat bear facts. For example, did you know that female bears give birth during hibernation?
I also checked out the interpretive hut at the refuge. My favourite part of the hut was seeing how my hand dwarfed in comparison to a big male grizzly paw (made from a mold of a paw imprint).
If you’re interested in bears, this is an incredible opportunity to learn about grizzlies... and maybe even see Boo himself.
For lots more details on Boo and the Grizzly Refuge, visit: http://www.kickinghorseresort.com/activities/bear/bio.asp