Black Bears

Black Bears are primarily forest animals and their sharp curved fore claws enable them to easily climb trees, even as adults. Black Bears fed on what is easy and abundant, usually berries, horsetails, other vegetation and insects, although they wonʼt turn up their noses at fish, young fawns or another carnivorʼs kill. Black Bear sows with young are the most likely to attack young Moose, deer or Elk. Vancouver Islandʼs Black bears remain the only species of bear not officially considered threatened. Of the 6 subspecies of Black Bears, only Ursus americanus vancouveri is found on Vancouver Island & nowhere else. They are one of the worldʼs most adaptable animals and can run two times faster than humans. They prefer burned areas to mature forests or clear cuts.Emerge from dens as early as late February or March in low elevation areas near the Pacific Coast (because of our mild climate, many do not hibernate at all!)

Description

Typical coloration of Black Bears in the west is black to cinnamon with a white blaze on the chest and in the east, black. On Gribble Island and the neighbouring mainland of British Columbia individuals are nearly white. The snout is tan or grizzled with a straight or slightly convex profile. Average weight is 200-600 pounds.

Distribution

Black Bears inhabit heavily forested areas, dense bush and wooded mountains throughout most of British Columbia. They tend to wander a great distance, some male adults having lifetime ranges of 500 to 620 square miles.

Biology

1-5 cubs are born in January to early February generally every second year. The Black Bear young weigh only one-half a pound at birth. This uniquely North American bear is generally nocturnal and solitary. It is classed as a carnivore although most of its diet consists of vegetation such as twigs, buds, leaves, nuts, roots, various fruits, corn and berries. They are also good fisherman and feed on spawning salmon. Before winter it puts on a great supply of fat, then holes up for the winter in a sheltered place. Hunting Black Bears is a popular sport, the meat is eaten and often the hides are made into rugs.

Tracks

The tracks of this slightly pigeon-toed creature are characterized by the overlapping of the hind prints onto those of the front. The heel pad of the rear foot is long and vaguely resembles that of a human. Five toes with equally long claws are evenly spaced along the top of this pad.

Black Bears on Vancouver Island

  • Remain the only species of bear not officially considered threatened
  • Of the 6 subspecies of Black Bears, only Ursus americanus vancouveri is found on Vancouver Island & nowhere else
  • They are one of the world’s most adaptable animals
  • Will eat anything that is high in protein and energy
  • Can run two times faster than humans
  • Vastly prefer burned areas to mature forests or clear cuts
  • Produce fewer offspring than any other mammal (1-4 cubs every few years)
  • Adult males home range from 25 to 150 sq. km, that overlaps home ranges of a number of female bears
  • Emerge from dens as early as late February or March in low elevation areas near the Pacific Coast (because of our mild climate, many do not hibernate at all!)
  • Bears are naturally curious and love to explore