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New floors part of ongoing improvements to bear facility

Posted by | April 5, 2017

The grizzly dens at the Washington State University Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center are getting a spring facelift.

The Center recently chose three projects to improve the overall functionality of the building and bear dens. The largest, and last, of these projects involved the floors and walls of the interior bear dens getting sandblasted, patched up, and the floors resurfaced.

The other projects included re-routing a few plumbing pipes to reduce the chances of a frozen pipe disturbing the bears’ hibernation and moving a thermostat to a more accessible area.

The Center has six dens and were updated in groups of three. It took five to six days for the work to be completed on each group of three dens, according to Keith Blatner, director of the Center.

During the work, which cost around $50,000, the bears didn’t have access to the inside den as workers cleaned the dens and put down a special textured floor and epoxy coat.

“Ultimately, this will dramatically improve the dens for the bears,” Blatner said. “So that will outweigh a little short term inconvenience. And in the wild, they’d be outside all the time anyway once they come out of hibernation.”

The resurfacing work was timed to coincide with the bears hibernation cycle, Blatner said. The bears are awake, but it takes them a few weeks to become more active. So this was the perfect time to do this work, when they want to be outside, but aren’t ready to run around or eat much.

“The resurfacing is the biggest project, but they were all needed to improve the facility for the bears,” Blatner said. “The new floor surface and patching up the natural erosion of a few spots is a huge improvement.”