What’s For Dinner?

English: An American Black Bear (Ursus america...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Bears

 Up to 85% of the black bear’s diet consists of vegetation.  But in Laborador, Canada, black bears are exceptionally carnivorous, ingesting caribou and rodents.   When initially emerging from hibernation, black bears will seek to feed on carrion from winter-killed animals and newborn ungulates (hoofed mammals).   Grasses, wetland plants,  forbs, honey, young shoots, and the buds of trees and shrubs during the spring period are also especially important to black bears emerging from hibernation.  They assist in rebuilding muscle and strengthening the skeleton and are often the only digestible foods available at that time. During summer, the diet is comprised largely of fruits, especially berries and buds.  In the autumn, black bears will mainly dine on nuts, huckleberries, and an assortment of other such foods.  In northern states and Canada, bears are more carnivorous.  Feasting on deer, elk calves, moose calves, caribou, and salmon.  Black bear’s fur also helps them hunt. The white furred black bears of the islands of western Canada have a 30% greater success rate in catching salmon than their black furred counterparts.  But in woods and forests the dark furred bears dominate.  Speaking of fur color, black bear fur comes in a few different colors.  The most common is black, but, their fur can also be any shade of brown, dark cinnamon (red), and light cinnamon (almost white).  The black bear’s habitat consists of Canada,  Parts of the US, and a little bit of Mexico.  They are often found in areas of relatively inaccessible terrain with thick understory vegetation and large quantities of edible material.  Concerning measurements.  The male black bear is usually much larger than the female, weighing between 126-550 lbs. with a 47-79  inches shoulder height, while the female is only 90-370 lbs. and has a shoulder height of 28-41 inches.  The average length of a black bear is 47-79 inches and their skulls are 10.5-12.5 inches wide.  The largest black bear on record was a male in New Brunswick shot in November 1972, with an estimated weight of 1,100 lbs.

In the winter, black bears metabolic rate changes allow them to remain dormant for months without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating. Most biologists have defined mammalian hibernation as “specialized, seasonal reduction in metabolism concurrent with scarce food and cold weather”. Black bears are considered highly efficient hibernators.   Entering their dens in October and November. Prior to that time, they can put on up to 30 pounds of body fat to get them through the months during which they fast.  Hibernation typically lasts 3–5 months.  Usually they make their dens out of hollowed-out tree cavities, under logs or rocks, in banks, caves, culverts, and in shallow depressions. Females, however, have been known to be pickier in their choice of dens in comparison to males.  Females give birth in February and nurture their cubs until the snow melts.  Ultimately, black bears are a mostly plant eating animal and although not as big or dangerous as their cousins (brown bear, polar bear, ect), they should be treated with extreme caution and respect or they might just consider you a tasty dinner treat.

for more information and to see pictures of different colored bears, watch my video at http://youtu.be/xUh2y5VbaGQ