This page is about the mammal. For other uses, see Bear (disambiguation).
Bears are a group of largemammals. They form the family Ursidae, in the suborder Caniformia of the orderCarnivora. There are 9 living bear species.
Appearance[change | change source]
Bears usually have a big body with short and thick legs. They only have a very short tail. They have small eyes and round ears. They usually have longer, shaggy fur. On each foot they have five claws, which they cannot pull back. They have very good senses of smell and hearing. They can stand up on their back legs. Usually bears can climb and swim very well.
Life[change | change source]
They are mostly active at night (except for the Polar Bear). Some bears hibernate, that means they sleep during the winter to save energy.
Bears are usually omnivorous, which means that they eat plants and meat. They eat berries, grass, and fish. An exception is the polar bear, which eats mostly meat.
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Essay/Term paper: Black bears
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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
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
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.
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
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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