Friday, September 12, 2014

Pennsylvania Animals: Black Bear

Of all the animals that I talk about with other people, this one gets the most excitement, mostly because in my area so many people have seen a black bear up close and personal. My few sightings have been dramatic, also. Once Read More
I ambled down our lane and couldn’t continue because of the bear crossing ahead of me. I froze, and he didn’t seem to notice me. Then I backed up and took a car to my destination instead.

The most memorable time, Ben, our youngest then at age three, came running in carrying his little bow and arrow, shouting, “There’s a bear out there!” I didn’t believe him because he had been pretending to hunt with his bow and arrow. When I finally did believe him, and looked out, the bear had stood up on its hind legs on the hill 20 feet from our window making it look even bigger than it was. Yes, that scared me. My little boy outside with that massive bear!

The third time, I only saw evidence of where a bear had been, the mangled carcass of a fawn, right beside the road that I always walk on. Well, no longer do I walk that deserted road. I changed to walking in the town park. When I told my park walking partner why I walked there now, she said that a bear had also been seen crossing the park!

I’m sure many of you have bear sighting stories, too. I would love to hear, I mean, read them. Please post a comment at the end of this and tell your story.

Here are some interesting facts I found about Pennsylvania black bear.

Physical Characteristics
  • Colors are black, cinnamon, and blonde which is rare.
  • Black bears average 200 pounds, three-feet high, and five-to-seven-feet standing
  • Males weigh twice as much as females
  • Pennsylvania is known for its large bears, 600 to the largest at 900 pounds.

  • They can climb trees.
  • They swim well.
  • They have good senses of smell and hearing.

Life Expectancy
  • 25 years

  • Black bears are most active at dawn and dusk
  • They travel on trails.
  • Bears stand up when curious.
  • Their winter nap is called a torpor sleep, not a true hibernation, just a deep sleep with slower heart rate and breathing. Their body temperature drops slightly, and they don’t need to eat or pass body waste. The females also nurse cubs while sleeping. 

  • Cubs are born in January.
  • They stay in the den for two to three months.
  • They follow the mother around for up to one and one half years.
  • Only the mother cares for them.

Pennsylvania Population
  • 1970 population was estimated at 4,000.
  • 2013 population was estimated at 18,000

Humans should protect themselves by
  • Making noise when walking in bear inhabited territories
  • Putting away garbage and pet food to not to encourage bears to come near houses or campsites. Also, feeding them intentionally is illegal. 

Young, Kim J. Pennsylvania Wildlife Journal: Birds and Mammals. York, Pa: York County Conservation District, 2012, pp. 58-64. 

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