Black bears are found in a wide variety of habitats across their range. They
prefer forested and shrubby areas but they are also known to live on
ridgetops, in tidelands, burned areas, riparian areas, agricultural fields
and, sometimes, avalanche chutes. Black bears can be found from
hardwood and conifer swamps to the rather dry sage and
pinyon-juniper habitats in the western states. Black bears typically
"hibernate" during winter in hollowed-out dens in tree cavities, under logs
or rocks, in banks, caves, or culverts, and in shallow depressions. Dens are
normally not reused from one year to the next. While they do not eat, drink,
defecate, or urinate during hibernation, it is not the true hibernation of smaller
mammals since their body temperature does not drop significantly and they remain
somewhat alert and active. Females give birth and nurse their young while
After emerging from their winter dens in spring, they seek carrion from winter-killed
animals and new shoots of many plant species, especially wetland plants. In
mountainous areas, they seek southerly slopes at lower elevations for forage and move to northerly and easterly slopes at higher elevations
as summer progresses. Black bears use dense cover for hiding and thermal protection, as well as for bedding. They climb trees to escape
danger and use forested areas and rivers as travel corridors.
Females generally reach breeding maturity at 3 to 4 years of age and with adequate nutrition can breed every 2 years. In poor quality
habitat, they may not mature until 5-7 and may skip breeding cycles. Males are sexually mature at same age, but may not become large
enough to win breeding rights until they are 4-5 years old (they have to be large enough to win fights with other males and be accepted by
females). Mating is generally during summer, from Mid-June to mid-August with some variation depending on latitude, but with embryonic
diapause, the embryos do not begin to develop until the mother dens
in the fall to hibernate through the winter months. Because of this
delay, gestation can be 7 to 8 months, but actual development takes
about 60 days. However, if food was scarce and the mother has not
gained enough fat to sustain herself during hibernation as well as
produce and feed cubs, the embryos do not develop.
The cubs are generally born in January or February. They are
very small, about 10-14 ounces, and are blind, nearly hairless, and
helpless when born. Two to three cubs are most common, though up
to four and even five cubs have been documented. First-time
mothers typically have only a single cub. The mother nurses the
cubs with rich milk, and by spring thaw, when the bears start leaving
their dens, the cubs are fur-balls of energy, inquisitive and playful.
By this time they are about 4 to 8 pounds (2-4 kg). When their
mother senses danger, she grunts to the cubs to climb high up a
tree. They are weaned between July and September of their first
year and stay with the mother through the first winter. The cubs
become independent during their second summer (when they are
1.5 years old). At this time, the sow goes into estrus again.
Cub survival is totally dependent on the skill of the mother in teaching her cubs what to eat, where and how to forage, where to den, and
when and where to seek shelter from heat or danger.
|Good Shepherd Farm Alpacas is owned by Chris & Rebecca Arnold. Copyright 2005-2008. All rights reserved. Website powered by Yahoo!
Do you know how to tell the difference between a Black Bear and a
Grizzley? If you climb a tree, a Black Bear will climb up the tree after
you, a Grizzley will simply knock the tree down!
This video on Youtube shows the stealthyness and curiosity of the
American Black Bear. Bears are masters of their domain and can
move swiftly through almost any terrain. Most Black Bears, especially
in the Woodlands of the East Coast, range between 90-400 lbs and
rarely reach 600 lbs. The Bear in this video was probably 250-300
lbs. It was filmed in Northeast PA.
The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is the most common
bear species native to North America. It lives throughout much of the
continent, from northern Canada and Alaska south into Mexico, from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. This includes 41 of the 50 U.S. states and
all Canadian provinces except Prince Edward Island. Populations in
the east-central and southern United States remain in the protected
mountains and woodlands of parks and preserves, though bears will
occasionally wander outside the parks' boundaries and have set up
new territories, in some cases on the margins of urban environments
in recent years as their populations increase. Although there were
probably once as many as two million black bears in North America
long before European colonization, the population declined to a low
of 200,000 as a result of habitat destruction and unrestricted hunting.
By current estimates, more than 800,000 are living today on the
|American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
The American Black Bear usually ranges in length from 150 to 180 cm (60 to 72 inches) and typically stands about 80 to 95 cm (34 to 48
inches) at the shoulder. Standing up on its hind feet, a black bear can be up to 7 feet tall. Males are 33% larger than females. Females
weigh between 40 and 180 kg (90 and 400 pounds); males weigh between 115 and 275 kg (250 and 600 pounds). Adult black bears seldom
exceed 300 kg (660 pounds) but exceptionally large males have been recorded from the wild at up to 240 cm (95 inches) long and at least
365 kg (800 pounds). The biggest American black bear ever recorded was a male from North Carolina that weighed 880 lbs (400 kilograms).
Cubs usually weigh 200 to 450 g (between 7 ounces and 1 pound) at birth. The adult has small eyes, rounded ears, a long snout, a large
body, and a short tail. It has an excellent sense of smell. Though they generally have shaggy black hair, the coat can vary in color from white
through chocolate-brown, cinnamon-brown and blonde (found mostly west of the Mississippi River), to black in the east (the same is
generally true in Canada, the border being between Manitoba and Ontario). They occasionally have a slight V-shaped white chest blaze.
The tail is 4.8 inches long.
Although black bears can stand and walk on their hind legs it is more normal for them to
walk on all fours. When they do stand, it is usually to get a better scent or to look at
something. Their characteristic shuffling gait results from their plantigrade (flat-footed)
walk, with the hind legs slightly longer than the forelegs. Another reason for the apparent
shuffle is that they commonly walk with a pacing gait. Unlike many quadrupeds, the
legs on one side move together instead of alternating, much like a pacer
horse. Each paw has five long, strong claws used for tearing, digging, and
Black Bear Deterrents & Attractants
There are all sorts of Black Bear deterrents being sold on the market today for a "small" price. Utilizing some common house hold products ,
along with some common sense practices, can also provide a more economical way to deter black bears. It is also beneficial to do what we
can to not attract a Black Bear. The following is a list of deterrents, attractions, and links to articles. Some links point to websites outside of
gafalpacas.com. Remember to alternated deterrents to prevent the Black Bear from getting used to one method.
Black bears can run as fast as 25 miles per hour while they chase prey, and they are
skillful tree climbers. Some bears have become troublesome around camps and cabins if
food is left in their reach. Black bears have severely injured and sometimes even killed
campers or travelers who feed them, however they are normally timid and secretive and
rarely are dangerous unless wounded or cornered. They are often captured and tamed.
Front paw track ranges from 4 to 5 inches in length (10 - 13 cm); human-like rear track is
from 6 to 9 inches in length (15 - 18 cm). Black Bear tracks can be differentiated from
the Grizzly Bear by evidence of smaller claw markings in the Black Bear print.
Expert Village has produced some excellent videos about finding, tracking, and
identifying bear sign. Click Here to view.
Click Here to visit a great website about Tracking North American Wildlife
Owing to their size and habits, bears will often leave abundant sign in areas that they
frequent. Scat or droppings, claw marks on trees, and footprints or tracks can help clue
a hunter in as to the patterns and activities of bears.
An analysis of bear scat can tell a hunter several things about the animal that left it.
First of all, it is an indication that a bear has been there. During the fall feeding frenzy,
a bear may defecate 5 to 15 times a day resulting in an abundance of scat. Scat can be
in the form of piles or logs, the size of which may give a clue as to the size of the bear.
Small bears may generate logs comparable in diameter to a D-size battery whereas a
really large bear may produce scat of the diameter of a soda can.
Scat content can help guide a hunter to the feeding site of a bear. Bears that frequent
cornfields will generate yellowish scat laden with corn kernels. Bears feeding heavily on
berries will leave berry scat. Scat that contains plastic wrappers and garbage indicate a
bear that has been finding a source of residential trash. Animal hair, seeds, and other
indigestible items will travel through a bear�s digestive system and be left behind in the
scat. Since their stomach guides their habits, scat analysis can be an invaluable guide
to the bear hunter.
Garbage or Compost
Manure - droppings
Fruit that has fallen from trees or shrubs
Small & newborn livestock
A sunning alpaca
Purchased Scent Lures
Any of the above on neighbors property
Any of the above at neighbors property
Find a Local Trapper
The West Virginia Trappers Association is a great resource for West Virginia Alpaca Farmers to
locate a trapper to come trap unwanted predators. The website also lists Trapper Associations for
other states. If you cannot or do not want to attempt to hunt or trap black bears yourself, we recommend
contacting an experienced hunter or trapper.
Bear Kills Alpaca on Farm
June 5, 2008 Bear kills alpaca on farm
By Jeff Starck Wausau Daily Herald
TOWN OF FRANKFORT -- A black bear is thought to have killed
an alpaca last month outside of Stratford. The alpaca was one of
two that were in a fenced-in area in the town of Frankfort,
according to a Marathon County Sheriff's Department report. The
owner told a deputy that the alpaca was killed between 9:30 p.m.
May 28 and 4 p.m. May 29. A sheriff's deputy investigating the
incident reported that a bear climbed over a fence, killed the
animal and dragged it back to the fence before leaving the
enclosed area. The deputy reportedly found the fence bent over
with pieces of black fur that appeared to be from a bear. Alpacas
are native to South America and are smaller than llamas. Both are
members of the camel family and have been domesticated for
centuries. Their wool is valuable and is used to make garments,
according to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association. The
animals are expensive, and the alpaca that died was valued at
$18,000, police said. Bear sightings are relatively common in
Marathon County, but a bear attack on a domestic animal is rare,
Sheriff's Lt. Dale Wisnewski said. Dan and Peggy Emmerich have
been raising alpacas for about nine years at their Enchanted
Meadows farm about 10 miles north of Wausau. They breed and
raise about 80 alpacas on their farm. They harvest the wool to
make sweaters and other products. They use guard dogs, known
as maremma, to watch their alpacas and the angora and boer
goats they raise. "They pretty much keep everything at bay,"
Peggy said, adding that bears, wolves and coyotes have been
seen on their property. Emmerich said she was shocked when the
dead alpaca was reported but said she has heard of similar
attacks in Colorado. Alpacas are not aggressive and are easier to
handle than cows and horses, Emmerich said.
|Being in the Eastern United States, this section will focus on the North American Black Bear (Ursus americanus).
Black bears are omnivores whose diet includes both plants and meat. They are apex predators in North America, with the exception of areas
where they coexist with the brown bear. The black bear eats a wide variety of foods, mainly herbs, nuts and berries. In the state of
Washington, black bears eat a large amount of skunk cabbage, horsetail and tree bark during the spring. They also commonly feed on
spring acorns in Massachusetts.
Black Bear by a tree stumpThey also feed on carrion and insects (mainly for the
larvae) such as carpenter ants, yellow jackets, bees, wasps and termites. They do
raid bees' nests for honey, but more importantly for the bee larvae which are an easy
source of protein. They also kill and eat small mammals (such as rodents) and
ungulates, mostly the young. In Michigan and the state of New York, black bears
have preyed on white-tailed deer fawns. In addition they have been recorded preying
on elk calves in Idaho and moose calves in Alaska.
Additionally, black bears will eat salmon, suckers, alligator eggs, crayfish, and trout
and will seek out food within orchards, beehives, and agricultural croplands. They
may frequent garbage dumps or appropriate food from the trash bins of businesses
or private homes.
Black bears often drag their prey to cover, preferring to feed in seclusion and
frequently begin feeding on the udder of lactating females, but generally prefer meat
from the viscera. The skin of large prey is stripped back and turned inside out with
the skeleton usually left largely intact. Unlike wolves and coyotes, black bears rarely
scatter the remains of their kills. Vegetation around the carcass is usually matted
down by black bears and their droppings are frequently found nearby. Black bears
may attempt to cover remains of larger carcasses, though they do not do so with the
same frequency as cougars and grizzly bears.
Livestock depredations by black bears occur mostly in spring. A limitation of food sources in early spring and wild berry and nut crop
failures during summer months are probably major contributing factors. Black bears can do extensive damage in some areas of the
northwestern states by stripping the bark from trees and feeding on the cambium.
Though black bears will attack adult cattle and horses, they seem to prefer sheep,
goats, calves and pigs. They normally kill by biting the neck and shoulders, though they
may break the neck or back of prey with blows from the paws. Evidence of a bear attack
includes claw marks are being frequently found on the neck, back and shoulders of these
larger animals. Surplus killing of sheep and goats are relatively common. Bears have
been known to frighten livestock herds over cliffs, causing injuries and death to many
animals. Whether or not this is intentional is not known.
In some areas, black bears share their range with the Brown bear. Due to their
smaller size, black bears are at a competitive disadvantage against brown bears in open,
non-forested areas. Although displacement of black bears by brown bears has been
documented, actual interspecific killing of black bears by brown bears has only
occasionally been reported. The diurnal black bear's habit of living in heavily forested
areas as opposed to the largely nocturnal brown bear's preference for open spaces
usually ensures that the two species avoid confrontations in areas where they are
sympatric. Black bears are also sympatric with cougars and will sometimes usurp kills
from them. Generally, however, black bears prefer not to fight with other predators.
Attacks on humans
Like many animals, they seldom attack unless cornered, threatened, or wounded.
They are less likely to attack humans than grizzly bears and typically flee for cover as
soon as they identify a human visitor. Deaths by black bear are most often predatory, while
grizzlies fatalities on humans, although extremely rare, are often defensive. This makes feigning death when a black bear attacks ineffective.
Although 14 North Americans have been killed since the year 2000, it is estimated that there have been only 56 documented killings of
humans by black bears in North America in the past 100 years.
|Black Bear Close Encounter 2 feet away
|Black Bear takes Moose calf
Black Bear and Alpacas in the news