Black Bears

Black bear cub in a tree
A black bear cub hides among the foilage of a tree at Afterbay Campground

NPS (Eckert)

A tapered face, large rounded ears, the absence of a muscular hump over the shoulder, and short claws are distinctive, identifying characteristics of the black bear. These bears also have several color phases ranging from cinnamon blonde to black.

In Pursuit of Food
Classified as a carnivore because of its large predominate canine teeth, its feeding habits more closely resemble those of an omnivore. Insects, roots, bulbs, berries, and carrion make up the bulk of their diet.

Black bears also have a tendency to be lazy, pursuing easy avenues of food acquisition such as the unsuspecting camper’s cooler. So, while you are in bear country please store your food properly and do not feed the bears.

A Long Winter's Nap
Most bears follow a regular pattern when investigating their territory. They use knowledge gained from the 1 ½ years spent with their mother. All their energy is geared toward building body stores for winter.

Bears do not hibernate during cold weather, but they do enter a deep sleep. Their body temperature drops only a few degrees, and the brain can awake lethargically at any time. During the winter sleeping periods, a pregnant sow will give birth to an average of two or three cubs, weighing eight ounces each. It is not uncommon to find black and brown cubs in the same litter.

When the mother awakes from her long winter’s nap, the cubs, by this time weighing 5 pounds, venture out of the den with her to see their first daylight.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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