Christmas in Yellowstone

Photo Essay: Building a Bear Den

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Building a Bear Den
Time to HibernateTime to HibernateVoila! A grizzly settled in for a long winter's nap.
Home Sweet Home?Home Sweet Home?A grizzly named "June" checks out her new digs.
Final TouchesFinal TouchesBob rigs the tire the bear plays with up out of the way.
Whew!Whew!They are "rolled" into a grizzly pen and just barely fit!
Installing the DenInstalling the DenThey are "rolled" into a grizzly pen and just barely fit!
UnloadingUnloadingAfter a harrowing drive over Banner Pass in a snowstorm, the boxes are unloaded at WSU.
Heavy LoadHeavy LoadThe boxes are finished. With all the cement, rocks, and wooden framing, they are beyond heavy. To load them onto the trailer, Ron moves them across steel pipes. Just like rolling the big stone sculptures on Easter Island!
Texture and WiringTexture and WiringInterior surface work proceeds. The entire den will be fitted with rocks and cemented with a textured finish. A cement specialist is called in to help get the color just right. An electrician will wire the den for lights and the remote camera and install an electrically heated floor to keep the cubs warm.
Trying It OutTrying It OutBob tries out the back den for size. Shot through the now framed-in front box.
Faux Cave WallsFaux Cave WallsEach box is framed inside to create the sides of the "cave." Rocks are brought up from the river close to Bob's house.
Construction BeginsConstruction BeginsConstruction begins in Bob's garage. The den is built as two boxes -- a big deep back den that will house the lights and the remote research camera, and an entrance chamber. Builder Ron Cooley, Bob's brother in law, is enlisted to help.
Designing the DenDesigning the Den...side schematic that illustrates how he thinks the den will work.
Designing the DenDesigning the DenCinematographer Bob Poole begins with simple drawings -- a front and...
Getting the ShotGetting the ShotTo film a bear in hibernation, NATURE went to the Bear Research Center at Washington State University. WSU houses four adult female grizzlies and several cubs, all of which have been raised by people and are well adjusted to human presence. The challenge was to create a den which would resemble one a grizzly would make in Yellowstone; that would allow good filming access; that would not interfere with the ongoing research on hibernation being conducted at WSU; and that would not disturb the bear and her cubs.