After our bear arrticle in the fall issue, we wondered about the impact of a mild winter. According to the DEC, warmer winter weather can affect bear hibernation periods to some extent. The timing of den entrance is primarily tied to the amount of daylight and natural food availability, and varies by the sex, age and physical condition of the bear. Warm weather and the lack of snow will cause more bears to be active further into the winter, and it will cause more of them to get up and move about throughout the winter.
Pregnant females and females with cubs will be less affected by the mild weather, being tied more to the amount of daylight. Young males and very large males are most likely to be active later in the season and, occasionally, throughout the winter. Young, single bears have been known to leave their dens even during normal winter conditions to go after bird feeders and garbage if these attractants are in the vicinity of the bear den.