Where are the Black Bears?

By Katie O’Hara-Kelly

Black Bears have been conspicuously absent in our neighborhood the past few months.  I saw a bear track in the snow in January, but no tracks since then. We haven’t even seen any bear scat locally!  Black Bears are primarily nocturnal, but I have seen them many times during the day.  They should be out foraging on insects, carrion, small to medium size mammals (mainly rodents), and vegetation at this time of year.  

Black Bears mate in June or July, and the cubs are born the following spring.  They are typically solitary except briefly during mating season.  The females raise the young on their own, and males are NOT welcome around the cubs.  Bears give birth to their young in winter.  The cubs nurse their hibernating mother throughout the winter.  The cubs weigh approximately 1/2-1 lb. when they are born, but usually weigh 4.5-11 lbs when they emerge from their winter den.  Litters can range from 1-5 in size, but the usual is 2-3 cubs.  They are weaned at 6-8 months, but remain with their mother through the following winter, until they are about 17 months old.  As an adult, a Black Bear be 4.5′-6′ in length and 3′-3.5′ in height.  Female Black Bears weigh 85 to 520 lbs.  Males weigh 103-900 lbs!  They are powerful swimmers and climbers, and can run up to 30 mph!  They may range many miles in their daily search for food!  They have been know to live for 30 years in the wild.

So where are the Black Bears?  I don’t know!  There’s probably enough natural food available, so they’re staying away from human food.  Which is a GOOD thing!  A few years back they showed up and devoured all the cherries in our neighborhood, while they were still green.  So maybe in a month or so they’ll show up.  Hopefully we’ll see some soon!

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