A little more than two weeks before the official date of estivation, The Department of Well-Being and Safety (DWBS) has released a report on the health of The Park’s hibernating communities.
Entitled, “Premature Awakening: The Dawn of an Epidemic?” the report relates the results of a two-year study of the incidence of premature awakening among The Park’s hibernating citizens. The study was conducted by the DWBS in collaboration with the University of West Terrier’s School of Medicine and the Park General Hospital for the Afflicted and Infirm.
According to the report, deaths from premature awakening have risen 30% in the last two years. This past Winter alone, several hundred Ground Squirrels were found dead outside their burrows weeks before the official end of hibernation.
“We assume they were looking for food and became disoriented,” says Oliver S.P. Franklin, head of the Confederation of Ground Squirrels. “It was a real blow to the community.”
While the report documents the rise in incidence, it offers no definitive answers as to the cause.
“This is just the beginning,” says Dr. Jagger Zebu, Professor of Mammalian Medicine at the University of West Terrier and one of the authors of the report.
“The matter requires much further study before we can be confident of an explanation,” he says.