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Black Bear - Ursus Americanus
Black bears are an important part of the ecosystem. Gentle omnivores who’re afraid of humans, they disperse the seeds of the plants they eat and consume large numbers of insects and moth larvae. They sometimes take small and large mammals as prey, such as rabbits and deer. And of course they love eating salmon.
As large animals who need a lot of room to live, their lives have become more difficult as humans encroach farther and farther into their habitat and greatly reduce their food supplies.
If you ever need information on resolving a conflict with a bear, please call us. If you encounter and injured or orphaned bear, please call us. Do not approach the bear.
25,000 black bears are estimated to inhabit all areas of Washington State except the Columbia Basin, including a significant population in Kitsap County.
Bears are seasonally on Bainbridge.
Range is 10-15 square miles.
Black bears eat plants and animals.
Diet: grasses, berries, nuts, tubers, wood fiber, insects, small mammals, fawns, elk calves, eggs, honey, carrion, and fish.
In the fall, they must add 35% to body weight and will eat up to 20 hours per day.
Attracted to pet foods, carrion, compost, BBQ grills, garbage, bird feeders.
Black bears are primarily crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and solitary, except for sows females with cubs.
Black bears are not true hibernators and may move from den to den in mild winters.
Some bears in coastal Washington remain active in the winter.
Breeding season is June – July.
Females conceive during the summer, but development is delayed until Nov. or Dec.
Two cubs are born in January/February in the den.
Newborns weigh less than a pound.
Cubs weaned in Aug., remain with their mothers for about 15 months.
If you spend time outdoors, your chances of seeing a black bear in Washington are fairly good.
Attacks on humans are extremely rare; Black bears are not aggressive and avoid people.
In North America approximately 45 fatalities have been attributed to black bears since 1900.
Only one fatality and four attacks have been recorded in Washington.
Most confrontations with bears are a result of surprise encounters at close range or bears protecting their cubs.
Bears are attracted to food and odors.
Coexisting: Living in Bear Habitat
Keep pet foods and livestock feed indoors.
Store garbage cans in your garage or a shed until pick-up day - Do not bury or burn your garbage.
Wash barbecue grills immediately after use and store indoors.
Avoid compost piles.
Keep any fish parts and meat waste in your freezer until it can be disposed of properly.
Enclose any beehives and fruit trees in chain-link or electric fencing .
Leave unattended cabins odor free.
Coexisting: Outdoor Recreation
Carry “Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray.”
Hike in small groups, avoid hiking alone, avoid hiking after dark, keep children on trails and nearby.
Prevent surprising a black bear, wear a bell or make noise.
Do not approach dead animals, especially recently killed or partially covered deer and elk.
Look for bear signs (tracks, feces, claw marks on trees or logs).
NEVER leave dogs off leash or alone at campsites.
Put garbage, soiled diapers, and tampons in bear-proof trash containers or pack it out in double plastic bags.
Never store food in your tent, and keep tents and sleeping bags odor free.
Avoid cooking smelly or greasy foods, such as bacon and fish.
Sleep at least 100 yards from your cooking area and food storage site.
Don’t sleep/hike in your cooking clothes.
Dispose of fish entrails by puncturing the air bladder and dropping the entrails in deep water where it will decompose.
Never approach a lone bear cub; NEVER get between cubs and mom.
Leave the bear an escape route and slowly back away (NEVER run or climb a tree).
Aggressively clap your hands or yell.
Fight back aggressively if attacked using your bare hands or any object you can reach.
Most of this information presented here is from Living with Wildlife by Russell Link and the Burke Museum of Natural History.