The Washington State University Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center has a new man-made cave, giving the bears something novel to explore in their exercise yard.

“Our bears enjoy digging dens in the yard, but they always collapse, so we figured we’d give them something permanent,” said Brandon Hutzenbiler, the manager at the center, which is jointly run by the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agricultural, Natural, and Human Resource Sciences.

He hopes the bears will use it as another place to escape the weather, get some privacy, or play.

“In the heat of summer, this should give them a location that’s a little cooler,” Hutzenbiler said. “We’ll put in some straw and make it as comfortable as possible in there.”

The cave is actually a 10-foot long steel culvert buried in the side of a hill in the existing 2-acre exercise yard. The culvert was specially made to have a flat top and bottom, to be more comfortable for the bears.

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