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Interesting Facts About The Black Bear
The black bear is a very smart and elegant bear and there are actually two kinds of black bears. There is the American black bear and the Central and East Asian black bear. My focus will be on the former.
The black bear is the most common type of bear in North America, as well as being the most familiar. They are very intelligent animals, and tend to be very curious. When they are standing up on their hind legs, it does not mean they are going to rush or attack! Most of the time, they simply want a better idea of their surroundings. Standing up on their hind legs helps with this because they have very keen senses of hearing and smell. The reason they have such keen senses of hearing and smell is to make up for their poor eyesight.
Black bears will eat almost anything from grasses, various berries, nuts, and insects to meats such as fish and small mammals. They can adapt to eat nearly anything, including human garbage! So please be careful! Bears eat as much as they can during the summer and fall. They do this to build up their body fat for hibernating over the winter. During hibernation, black bears can go up to seven months without eating!
Bears tend to be lone creatures, with the males wandering large "home" areas of up to 80 square miles. Despite being solitary, strong friendships can grow between black bears due to excellent long-term memory, along with great internal navigation. Even though it is their home area, they are not protective of it towards other bears. A male bear is called a boar, and a female bear is called a sow. They can also be referred to as "he-bears" and "she-bears." Interestingly enough, male and female bears hate being around each other! The only exception is during mating season, of course.
Female black bears will give birth during hibernation to two or three cubs every other year. Black bear cubs are born blind. Mother black bears are actually very nurturing and protective towards their cubs, who will stay with the mother for around two years!
Many people label black bears a threat. This is not true, as attacks on humans by black bears are exceedingly rare, and generally only occur when the human did not give the bear enough space. Despite being such large animals, ranging from 125 all the way up to a massive 600 pounds, they tend to be very shy, fearful animals. As well as shy, black bears can be very gentle and tolerant animals.
Color & Size
Even though they are called black bears, they are not always black! They come in a range of colors, including black, blue-black, dark brown, cinnamon, and, although it is very rare, white! White black bears are often referred to as spirit bears. Black bears' coats are shiny, with the exception of their snouts, which tend to be lighter in color. Black bears are four to six feet in length, and can be up to three feet high at their shoulders. In the wild, black bears will live 18 years on average. They can, however, live as long as 25 years!
The protection of this beautiful animal is important, as they are on the endangered species list. If you see one, DO NOT run away. This may evoke a chase reaction from the bear. If you have children or animals, pick them up or hold onto them to keep them from running or yelling. Back away SLOWLY, and try not to make eye contact. The bear feels threatened if it lunges, slaps the ground, or chomps.
Hiking & Camping with Black Bears
If you are hiking, be careful not to surprise a bear. Wear bells, or clap every so often to warn any bears that may be in the area that you are there. A frightened black bear that is cornered or feels threatened can cause very serious injury.
When camping, be careful how you store your food. Seal in odorous foods and garbage with either plastic bags or by keeping them indoors. If you have a bird feeder, make sure you hang it at least ten feet off the ground and six feet away from the trunk so it is out of reach of any bear. If you must store food outside, hang it from a tree as described for the bird feeder. Be careful with clothes that you have cooked in as well.
As long as you are careful, you should never have to worry about being attacked by a black bear. There are very rarely more than one or two attacks per year; one is more likely to be killed by a bee, and MUCH more likely to be killed in a car accident. On a positive note, the population of the black bear appears to be rising, and has been moved to the lowest priority of the endangered species list! Just remember to be careful if you do see one!