Black bears den during the winter months (typically from mid October into April) when food is scarce and the weather turns harsh. Denning black bears enter a state of torpor, a modified form of hibernation. This drowsy condition allows bears to defend themselves (and their cubs) more effectively should a predator visit the den. Bears do not urinate or defecate during denning—they recycle their waste into proteins and other nutrients. By not defecating, bears keep their dens essentially scent-free, protecting them from potential predators like cougars. Black bears in coastal areas may remain active throughout the winter, except for pregnant females, which den to give birth to cubs.Black bears can take up residence in small dens, some scarcely bigger than a garbage can. Den sites include tree cavities, hollow logs, small caves, and areas beneath large roots, stumps, logs, and rural buildings. They’ll occasionally excavate a den in the side of a hill near shrubs or other cover. Summer beds are merely concealed places scratched in the ground among dense vegetation, by a rock, or under the branches of a fallen tree. Young bears rest in trees for safety. Summer beds are merely concealed places scratched in the ground among dense vegetation, by a rock, or under the branches of a fallen tree. Young bears rest in trees for safety.
American black bears are the most common and widely distributed bears in North America. In Washington, black bears live in a diverse array of forested habitats, from coastal rainforests to the dry woodlands of the Cascades’ eastern slopes. In general, black bears are strongly associated with forest cover, but they do occasionally use relatively open country, such as clearcuts and the fringes of other open habitat.
Black bear fur is usually a uniform color except for a brown muzzle and light markings that sometimes appear on their chests. Eastern populations are usually black in color while western populations often show brown, cinnamon, and blond coloration in addition to black. Black bears with white-bluish fur are known as Kermode (glacier) bears and these unique color phases are only found in coastal British Columbia, Canada.
4-7 feet (1.2-2.1 m) from nose to tail and can measure up to 3 feet tall (1m) at the shoulder
Males can be 200-315 pounds (90-142 kg), Females can be 135-200 pounds (61-90 kg)
Because of their versatile diet, black bears can live in a variety of habitat types. They inhabit both coniferous and deciduous forests as well as open alpine habitats. They typically do not occur on the Great Plains or other wide open areas except along river courses where there is riparian vegetation and trees. They can live just about anywhere they can find food, but largely occur where there are trees.
In one word – everything. Black bear are considered opportunistic feeders, taking advantage of many seasonally available foods. Bear eat succulent, new green vegetation in the spring after they leave their dens. Colonial insects, such as ants and bees, may make up over half of their diet in late spring and early summer. Black bear experience rapid weight gain in years when wild berries, which are high in sugars and other carbohydrates, are available beginning in mid summer. Nuts and acorns, because they are high in fats and protein, are the best fall foods for bear when preparing for their winter’s sleep. If given the chance, black bear will supplement their natural diet with human garbage, pet foods, birdseed, or any foods placed to feed or attract other wildlife.
SIGNS OF PRESENCE:
Learning to recognize bear signs can add to the enjoyment of outdoor experiences. Tracks, droppings, claw-marked trees, turned-over rocks, torn-up tree stumps, or broken limbs of fruiting trees are all signs that a bear has been in the area. People who live in northern Michigan sometimes find bear signs in their own yards. Tipped-over trash cans broken bird feeders, and clawed buildings are evidence of a bear visit.
#blackbears #bears #animals #wildlife #4L #4leggers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Dept.
National Park Service
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Paul Tarwell, “Camping & Wilderness Survival Second Edition” (Lebanon, New Hampshire: Paul Tarwell, 2006).
Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
World Worldlife Federation