Sleepy Bears Stagger Around Siberia as Hibernation Stalls

Bears in eastern Russia’s Amur region can’t seem to get to sleep. They’re not trapped by perpetual scrolling in the bear version of Instagram — they’re waiting for the weather to cooperate.

It’s too hot in Amur for bears to start hibernating right now, according to local officials. Ursines in the region usually hunker down around the end of October, but they’re behind schedule after record heat this summer.

“In some areas, half-asleep bears still walk around the dens,” the Department for the Protection of Wildlife of the Amur Region (DPWAR) reported on Telegram.

According to the department, temperatures remain too high for the bears to bed down. It’s a matter of delicate calculus for bears, which decide when to initiate their seasonal sleep based on triggers like food supply and temperature.

Females with cubs did seek shelter “strictly” on schedule, according to DPWAR. “No weather anomalies worry them,” the group said.

Cubs rely more strongly on hibernation than their parents. Their smaller bodies can’t store as much fat as adults, and they’re generally more susceptible to cold weather.

But for now, the male bears of Amur continue to skulk their grounds. The groggy patrol might not last long. Today and tomorrow are the last days with forecasts above -17˚C for the next two weeks, and nighttime temperatures plunge into the -30s by the week before Christmas.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.