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Black Bear

Black bears are usually black in color, particularly in eastern North America. They usually have a pale muzzle which contrasts with their darker fur and may sometimes have a white chest spot. Western populations are usually lighter in color, being more often brown, cinnamon, or blonde.

Black Bear

Black Bear

Some populations in coastal British Columbia and Alaska are creamy white or bluish gray. Total body length in males ranges from 1400 to 2000 mm, and from 1200 to 1600 mm in females. Tail length ranges from 80 to 140 mm. Males weigh between 47 and 409 kg, females weigh between 39 and 236 kg. The distance between the canine teeth is about 4.5 to 5 cm.

Food Habit : black bears consume primarily grasses and forbs in spring, soft mast in the form of shrub and tree-borne fruits in summer, and a mixture of hard and soft mast in fall. diet of black bears is high in carbohydrates and low in proteins and fats. Consequently, they generally prefer foods with high protein or fat content, thus their propensity for the food and garbage of people. Bears feeding on a protein-rich food source show significant weight gains and enhanced fecundity. Summer is generally a period of abundant and diverse foods for black bears, enabling them to recover from the energy deficits of winter and spring. Black bears accumulate large fat reserves during the fall, primarily from fruits, nuts, and acorns.

Behavior :Black bears are characterized as shy, secretive animals possessing considerable curiosity and displaying high levels of intelligence and exploratory behavior. Black bears are generally active in the early morning and late evening; they may alter their activity pattern to exploit sources of artificial food, becoming nocturnal at camp grounds and dump sites. Nuisance activities are nearly always associated with artificial food sources (beehives, campgrounds, and livestock).

Life Cycle: The sexes coexist briefly during the mating season, which generally peaks from June to mid-July. Females remain in estrus throughout the season until they mate. They usually give birth every other year, but sometimes wait 3 or 4 years. Pregnancy generally lasts about 220 days, but this includes a delayed implantation. The fertilized eggs are not implanted in the uterus until the autumn, and embryonic development occurs only in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. Births occur mainly in January and February, commonly while the female is hibernating. The number of young per litter ranges from one to five and is usually two or three. At birth the young weigh 200 to 450 grams each, the smallest young relative to adult size of any placental mammal. They are born naked and blind.

Black Bear Baby

Black Bear Baby

Black bear cubs remain in the den with their torpid mother and nurse throughout the winter. When the family emerges in the spring the cubs weigh between 2 and 5 kg. They are ususally weaned at around 6 to 8 months of age, but remain with the mother and den with her during their second winter of life, until they are about 17 months old. At this time the female is coming into estrus and forces the young out of her territory. They may weigh between 7 and 49 kg at this point, depending on food supplies. Females reach sexual maturity at from 2 to 9 years old, and have cubs every other year after maturing. Males reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years old but continue to grow until they are 10 to 12 years old, at which point they are large enough to dominate younger bears without fighting.

Black bear cubs remain in the den with their sleeping mother and nurse throughout the winter. When the family emerges in the spring the cubs weigh between 2 and 5 kg. They are ususally weaned at around 6 to 8 months of age, but remain with the mother and den with her during their second winter of life, until they are about 17 months old. At this time the mother forces the young out of her territory. They may weigh between 7 and 49 kg at this point, depending on food supplies.

Black bear mothers care for their young and teach them necessary life skills throughout the time that their cubs are with them.Male black bears do not contribute directly to their offspring but do indirectly by preventing new males from moving into the area. This makes it less likely for the young or mother to encounter an aggressive male or have to compete with new bears for food.

Black bears can live to 30 years in the wild but most often live for only about 10, mostly because of encounters with humans. More than 90% of black bear deaths after the age of 18 months are the result of gunshots, trapping, motor vehicle accidents, or other interactions with humans.

Adaptations: The black bear began to move northwards into the Yukon about 12,000 years ago. It was a time when the great ice sheets of the Wisconsin era were melting back into the mountains, and the boreal forests were slowly covering the fresh landscape.The evolution of denning behaviour was a key element in the expansion of black bear range into northern Canada. For this animal, a shorter foraging season simply means a longer denning period. At seven months, the denning period of a Yukon black bear is one of the longest of the species. Mexican black bears spend only a few weeks in the den.

Black Bear cubs

Black Bear Cubs

Mountainous terrain tends to reduce the size of each animal’s home range. Black bears need access to different types of habitat for food, water, dens, cover and concealment. Eastern black bears move great distances to meet all of these needs. Yukon bears have only to move to higher or lower elevations to find different types of habitat.

The presence of grizzlies in the Yukon affects the distribution and behaviour patterns of our black bears. Grizzlies may kill and eat black bears, and easily win the competition for food where their ranges overlap at river level and the subalpine zone. A black bear feeding on a salmon stream or in a berry patch will quickly move away when a grizzly arrives. An important feature of northern black bears is their low rate of reproduction. A female black bear in the Yukon breeds for the first time at seven to nine years of age, and every three to four years afterwards. In its 20 year life span a sow will produce only two to four litters.

Black Bears & People The black bear’s inquisitive and adaptable nature has led it into contact with humans and their campsites for thousands of years. Yukon Indians viewed black bears in much the same way they viewed grizzlies. Both bears had powerful spirits that demanded respect and proper treatment when they were killed. It was not wise to speak badly of bears because the bear spirits would hear the words, and things would go badly for the speaker.Before the arrival of firearms bears were rarely killed, and when they were, it was mainly through den hunting. When an occupied den was located, a group of the bravest men would try to kill the bear with spears and other hand weapons.

Black Bear

Black Bear

Pruning out terminals that are currently infested by larvae can be used to reduce white pine weevil populations. However, the time for effective use of pruning is brief, limited to the late spring/early summer period between when terminals show evidence of infestation (wilting) and the insects emerge from the terminal, as evidenced by exit holes. The pruned area should be limited only to the part of the terminal that is infested, which often may not extend to the next set of branches. The pruned material should be removed from the site and disposed since weevils may continue to develop in prunings.

The primary injury by white pine weevil is esthetic, deforming the growth of the tree as co-dominant uninjured side branches later grow to form multiple new leaders. This can be prevented by forcing a single leader to be dominant, suppressing the others, which will allow the tree to ultimately restore nearly normal form. This can be achieved by selecting as the new leader the most vigorous side branch and pinching the terminal buds of the other side shoots.

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