AMERICAN BLACK BEAR
The black bear is the smallest North American bear and is said to be the least aggressive.
Not all black bears are black; some have rusty brown or gray and black coats.
The American Black Bear lives primarily in woodland habitats and spends much of its time looking for food.
The female ranges over an area of 1 to 35 square miles, whereas the male may have a territory of up to 200
square miles. The female does not share her territory, but the territory of a male may overlap with other
males. Confrontations are rare, and black bears are thought to avoid open country, where they are
more likely to encounter the stronger, more aggressive
The American Black Bear is the most active at night but also forages during the day,
particularily when it is feeding heavily in the fall to prepare for a winter of inactivity.
weather approaches, the American black bear searches for a protected spot for its den. It may be under a
fallen tree,in a hollow log, in a cave, or in a burrow that it digs,sometimes under the snow. Although
its body temperature drops, its respiration slows,and its metabolic rate is depressed, the bear
is not a true hibernator; it remains semiconsious the entire winter. When it emerges from its den in May
it is thin and extremely hungry.
The American black bear mates in June and July. The female gives birth only every two to four years.
Although the egg is fertilized during mating, it is not implanted into the uterus until fall,
which means that the embryo developes only during the last 15 weeks of the gestion period.
Since the birth takes place in January or February the cubs are mature enough to leave the
den in the spring.
The female gives birth to two to three cubs weighing no more than 12
ounces. They are naked and blind, and they spend the cold winter months in the den where
they are fed and kept warm by their mother. By May, their coats are grown and their eyes are open.
They are not weaned until they are 6 to 8 months old, and they spend their second winter
in their mothers den, becoming independnt the following spring or early summer.
FOOD AND HUNTING
Although the American black bear is classified as a carnivore, it only occaisionally eats meat.
It feeds primarily on vegetation, including twigs, buds,leaves, nuts, roots, fruit, corn, and
plant shoots. In spring when it is particularly hungry after having spent aninactive winter,
it tears the bark from trees to eat the layer known as cambium> located just beneath
the surface. It also rips into rotting logs with its claws,looking for small insects and grubs.
Black bear often climb trees to raid birds nests for eggs and to tear open beehives to eat honeycombs,
bees,and larvae. They also eat small mammals like porcupines.
black bears hunt fish in
streams and rivers. They fish by diving or wading in the water, where they catch the fish with their
paws or teeth.
Bears often disturb the landscape in areas where they feed. While searching for food,
they turn over logs and stones, rip open tree stumps, and tear branches off trees.
BLACK BEAR AND MAN
The American black bear was hunted widely inthe past, although it is now a partially protected
species in Canada and the United States.It is especially popular visiters to Yellowstone National
Park, where it romes among their cars and trashcans,looking for food.
The black bears reputation
dates back to the beginning of this century. President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt captured a
black bear on a hunting trip. He kept it as a pet, and a toy manufacturer used it as a model
for the first teddy bear.
||Weight:100-300lbs. Male is much larger than female.
||Sexual maturity:Male 5-6 years.Female, 4-5 years.
||Mating:June to mid-July.
||Number of young:Up to 5; usually 2 or 3.
||Diet:All types of vegetation and plant material,fish small mammals,and carrion.
||Lifespan:About 25 years.
|DID YOU KNOW?
- The American black bear has been known to knock mountain goats from rocky ledges to kill them.
- Zoologists can determine the age of a bear by cutting crosswise through its tooth
and counting the rings, which are similar to the annual rings found in a tree.
- Black bears sometimes raid commerical beehives.
- Seven hundred American black bears were slaughtered in Canada in 1953 to provide
bearskin hats for British soldiers in Queen Elizabeth 11's coronation.