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Essay/Term paper: Black bears

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Black Bears

The black bear is the smallest North American bear. The adults are

usually less than six feet long and stand about two to three feet tall at

shoulders. The weight of a black bear varies between 125-500 ponds. They

have small eyes and rounded ears. Also their snout is very long. Each paw

has five very strong claws, which is used for tearing, digging, and climbing.

One single hit from the front paw is enough to kill an adult deer. A black

bear is a true carnivore, but if not prevented the black bear could be a huge

problem to humans.

A black bear loves to eat fresh leaves, berries, fruits, nuts, roots and also

insects and small mammals. When fall comes near, a black bear must eat

large amounts of food in order to gain enough weight to keep them through

winter hibernation. During hibernation when a little bit warmer weather

comes near the black bear must awaken and take short excursions outdoors,

so they can get a drink or some food. This is so the black bear will be able to

go back to sleep easier.

During hibernation a black bear will stay in a cave or some kind of stone

formation. Usually it will be near a creek or stream. The area around the

cave will usually have a lot of vegetation. If the cave does not have any

water or food around it the black bear will try to find another place to sleep

through the winter. That place will have plenty of food and water. During

the short excursions outdoors during hibernation the bear looks for

replenishments, this is why the bear must be near food and water (Rieffberger


A black bear"s habitat usually depends on two factors. One is vegetation

and the other is human activity. A black bear usually is not picky about a

place to stay if it has got food and is not too close to human activity. A black

bear"s habitat is usually characterized by a dense forest understory, which

includes brushy territory or a lot of downed trees which fell due to the

weather. Once spring starts coming around, black bears start emerging from

their hibernation. They move around the area a lot, because they are looking

for a new place which has good cover to stay under and a lot of vegetation a

round (Rieffenberger 8).

Black bears are becoming more and more of a problem. If people have

garbage or food that they have thrown out, a black bear may come and get it.

To keep a black bear out of the garbage, you need to get rid of the garbage

properly. If you do have a bad bear problem, you should call the West

Virginia Division on Natural Resources and they will either trap the black

bear or chase it away with the use of trained hounds. If the officer traps the

bear, the officer has to fill out a form to tell where it was captured, and what

the problem was. Then the officer tags the bears ear and fills out information

about the bear itself. When the officer releases the black bear, he has to tell

the date, county, and exact location. After this is done, the officer will be

able to if it is the same bear when another black bear is caught and has a tag.

The very last resort in getting rid of a black bear is shooting it. If this is the

case, a conservation officer will have to be the one to kill the black bear. If

any damage is done the person should check and see if the damage is covered

by the bear damage compensation. Not all damage is covered. Sometimes no

damage at all is covered (Houchins 2).

Most problems with black bears is caused by human error. If a person

gets rid of their trash and edible products properly, they will most likely not

have a problem with black bears (WV DNR).

The mating season for a black bear differs from most animals. Most

animals breed when they are in peak physical condition, but black bears when

their body weight is at the lowest for the year

and the food is scarce. This is usually in the spring. The birth of a cub

usually takes place in the sows winter den. If it is the bears first litter, there

will often be only one cub, but if it is not she may have two or three cubs.

The cub(s) will have a coat of short hair, and their eyes are shut. The cubs

are very small in size, usually between six to twelve ounces. The cubs grow

rapidly on the rich milk diet. Their eyes remain shut for the first six weeks

(Rieffenberger 16).

When cubs are three or four months old they take their first excursion

from their mothers side. Under the eye of their mother, the cubs learn what to

eat and what not to eat. The cubs are weaned in the late summer or early fall

when food becomes very abundant. Usually in September the mother takes

the cubs out and teaches them how to find sources of food like berries, fruits,

and nuts. Also sources of water and shelter. Around this time the cubs are

weighing about 25-65 pounds (Wildlife Biologue). The cubs usually spend

their first winter with their mother. Some cubs and their mothers move

around all winter and go back to their den on stormy days (Rieffenberger 18).

By June of the cubs second year, they are introduced to the world alone.

When the cubs are turned loose their weight usually goes down because of

the problem of not being able to find food, but with the help of a long summer

and abundant amount of food the cubs will make it all right. The cubs gain

weight even more the third summer when they know how to find food better

by themselves. When the mother turns the cubs loose in their second

summer, it is time for her to mate again (Wildlife Biologue).

To protect black bears from hunters, sanctuaries are established by the

D.N.R. These sanctuaries protect the breeding bears. The cubs of these

bears will be the ones turned loose to keep the population of black bears up

so they won"t go into extinction. Also in the sanctuaries scientists can study a

bear"s behavior, diet, and way of life including birth and death. The scientists

can do tests on black bears and find cures for diseases that black bears may

get in the future (WV DNR).

Black bears have inhabited West Virginia for along time. There was a lot

of black bears in the state when it was settled by the white men. In the3

1700"s the black bears were killed in large numbers by hunters. The hunters

wanted the meat and the furs so they could stay warm in the winter.

In 1933 a letter was sent to T.M. Cheek, state conservation commission

director. They told in the letter that the black bear was a beautiful problem

and it receives no protection, but should. In 1944 there was now a black bear

hunting season. No black bears could be killed by the hunter unless it was

hunting season. Then are only so many bears could be killed during one

season by one hunter. This helped the black bear population a lot. The black

bears were finally protected by a new law. After this the black bear

population grows not to rapidly. The future will soon note an increase of

black bears. With the hunting seasons and the help of the Department of

Natural Resources the black bears will be seen all over the state. If you have

seen one black bear in your county now, it will not be unlikely to see five or

six in the future.

To summarize, black bears are one small, North American carnivore that

stands about three feet tall to shoulders, and weighs about 125-500 pounds

A black bear"s paws are suitable for tearing, digging, and climbing. One

swipe from a black bears claws is enough to kill an adult deer.

Although classified as a carnivore, they are actually a omnivore who likes

to eat leaves, berries, roots, nuts, and some small animals. In the fall, black

bears start eating large amounts of food in order to gain weight and survive

winter hibernation.

Where a black bear chooses to inhabit depends on the vegetation of an

area and the amount of human activity. Black bears are a very complicated

animal. They are calm at most times and are only angered mostly by humans.

Black bears usually breed in the spring and the young leave their mothers in

the second summer of their life.

Because of their endangered species status, the DNR have established

sanctuaries to protect black bears. In 1944, a black bear season was

established. Only during this time could black bears be killed by hunters.

Due to this new protection law, the black bear population began to rise. In

the future, it will be a common sight to see a few black bears in your county.

Works Cited

Houchins, Stephen C, James E. Craft, and Jerry R. Duffield. Procedures for

Handling Nuisance Bears. Wildlife Resources Section 1999

How to Avoid Bear Damage and Nuisance Problems. West Virginia Division

of Natural Resources. 1996

Rieffenberger, Joseph C. et. al. West Virginia Black Bear. Wildlife Resources

Division. 1981

U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

American Black Bear. 1994. 28 October, 1999.


West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. 1899 Black Bear Hunting

Season. Wildlife Resources Section 1999.


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