Black Bear

The Black Bear range covers all of Canada from Newfoundland & Labrador to British Columbia, as well as much of the US, and parts of Mexico.

Males are about 170 cm in size – about 10% longer than females. Because black bears hibernate, they must gain a tremendous amount of fat reserves in the fall. They characteristically drop 25% – 35% of their body weight during hibernation. Females nursing newborns during this time can lose up to 45% of their total weight.

Their litters vary from 1 to 4 cubs, depending on the size and health of the mother. Females mate every 2 – 3 years, in summer, the fertilized egg develops in fall, and bear cubs are born during late winter.

Black bears swim well and often climb trees to feed on buds and fruit. They have a keen sense of smell and acute hearing, but very poor eyesight. They can be seen at any hour of the day, but are, for the most part, nocturnal.

These bears are omnivorous, but their diet consists of mostly sedge’s & plants, except for the period of salmon runs on Vancouver Island, when they eat fish or fish eggs, exclusively. They also feed on insects for most of the year, as evidenced by the many stumps & logs that they rip apart all over the Island, in search of this food source.

Black Bear, Vancouver Island, BC
Black Bear, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

In recent years, there has been a huge increase in bear-to-human confrontations, with bears usually on the losing end. Even large centers like Victoria & Nanaimo are experiencing escalating troubles due to encroaching bears.

To me, the bears are not the problem – the problem is us, and how we deal with our trash, fruit falling from trees, or simply leaving pet food outside. Bird feeders should also be set out of reach of bears. Once a black bear learns about city food (i.e. garbage, bird feeders, pet foods & fruit trees), they will search out these food supplies, and become problem bears, often becoming dead bears.

So, take some time, and examine your yard to make it bear-proof. This could save bears!

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