Black Bears!!

photo courtesy of skip pudney

So I was unsure of what to post this week so I decided to pick something random…black bears (Ursus americanus).

Black bears are a prominent large mammal in the southeast coastal plain landscape, though they are not very often seen as they tend to be a bit reclusive.  Black bears are the smallest of the three North American bear species and are only found in North America.  Black bears have uniform colored fur, usually black (which gives them their name), and a lighter colored muzzle.  Some western black bears have lighter colored fur and there is a subspecies of black bears found in coastal British Columbia with blueish white colored fur, they are known as Kermode bears or glacier bears. 

Black bears are omnivores, they eat a number of different things like plants, fruits, nuts, insects, honey, small mammals and carrion.  In some northern regions black bears will eat spawning salmon, small deer and moose calves.  Here in the southeast the black bears mostly live on berries and small mammals.

There are over 300,000 individual bears in the Unites States.  Some populations are threatened however, like in Louisiana and Florida.  Black bears live all over the United State in forests.  Their preference is thick forest that is uninhabited by humans.  In our region of the southeast coastal plain black bears are most likely to be seen in thick pocosin forests like in the Green Swamp or Holly Shelter Gamelands.  A recent study of black bear populations in North and South Carolina shows that the Green Swamp has a healthy and growing black bear population, good news for us! 

Black bears tend to be solitary animals, with the exception of mothers and cubs.  Cubs will stay with the mother for one year after birth.  In cold climates black bears will hibernate due to lack of available food in the winter months.  During hibernation is when the cubs are born, usually January or February, and the number of cubs born is based on the mothers food availability the summer before; the more food available the more cubs she is likely to have.  

Well I hope you learned a little something about black bears from reading this.  I know I did!  Thanks for looking.


About secpnc

My name is Sara Babin and I am the Conservation Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy Southeast Coastal Plain program in Wilmington, NC. Our office is responsable for the maintenance and restoration of 35,000 acres of preserve land owned by The Nature Conservancy. We protect the land for ecologically significant species in hopes to ensure a lasting natural history legacy for future generations to enjoy. This blog will highlight our most exciting activities and events with much of the focus being on our controlled burn program. With this blog we hope to share the ins and outs of what we do and how it is bettering the world for plants, animals, and people.
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