Bear Faq's

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Do black bears live in BC & Yukon?
Black bears are known to live all throughout BC & Yukon including Maple Ridge, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Whistler.


What is their temperament or nature?
Black bears are generally shy, gentle, usually solitary animals that are very rarely known to be aggressive. Bears usually attempt to avoid humans. Typically, bears fear and avoid people, but can be attracted to homes if they find food sources like garbage, pet food, crops, and bird feed. Each year property damage reports are received as a result of foods such as pet food, garbage, fruits, bird seed or feeders and other food attractants being stored in open porches, out buildings, truck canopies etc.


Do bears have soul mates?
Yes, bears can quickly take comfort in each other’s company and become inseparable. Bears like humans can also get scared and lonely once they’ve lost their family members.

Do bears have good eyesight?
Although bears have poor eyesight (they are nearsighted – see poorly at longer distances), they have extremely good senses of smell and hearing.


Can I run faster than a bear?
Black bears are very strong and very fast . . . They can outrun humans with their ability to run 40 miles per hour. They are also good swimmers.


Can I climb a tree to get away from a bear?
They can climb a tree at six weeks old and have been practicing since then…


Are their claws retractable?
Their claws are not retractable like a cat, and they use them for climbing, digging for insects or small mammals, turning over large rocks, getting insect larvae from inside rotten logs and for manipulating food.


What do they eat?
Bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat plants and animals, although they are classified as carnivores (meat eaters). They eat insects, leaves, berries, nuts, fruit, or on occasion juvenile mammals such as fawns, or small mammals. Most (80+%) of their diet is vegetation or insects.


When do they give birth to their cubs?
Adult female black bears breed every other year and give birth from early January to early February while in the den.


How big are the bear cubs when they are born?
Female black bears give birth to 1 to 4 cubs, each weighing 6 to 12 ounces while the sow is in their winter bear den.


Can cubs see when they are born?
Bear cubs are blind at birth, yet they have exceptionally well developed claws so they can climb around the den and on the sow to find the source of milk.


How fast do cubs grow when they are in the den?
Bear milk is very rich in fat and other nutritional substances. Cubs gain weight very fast and may grow 10 times their birth weight before leaving the den in April.


Do bear cubs purr?
Feeding cubs often make a unique “purring-type” sound when nursing that can often be heard when approaching a bear den.


How long do the cubs stay with their mother?
The cubs and yearlings stay with their mother until they are about 1½ years old and are ready to be on their own.


When they leave their mother, how much do they weigh?
By the time they reach one year old, the yearling bears may weigh 60 pounds or more. (about the size of a lab dog)


When do they reach maturity age?
Black bears usually reach full maturity by age three and one-half years, although sows may breed earlier.


How big do bears get?
Fully grown female bears (sows) usually weigh 125 to 250 (rarely over 300) pounds and are about 5 feet in length. Male bears (boars) are most often larger and usually weigh 200 to 400 pounds, occasionally exceeding 600 pounds.


When are bears most active?
Bears are probably most active at dawn or dusk (crepuscular), but can be active at any time, night or day, particularly when food is abundant. Bears have been known to forage for food as much as 20 hours in a day.


How old do they live?
In the wild, black bears have been known to live to be 26 years old. Jeannie the iconic Whistler bear was shot in October 24, 2011 at age of 20 yrs.


What are their predators?
Black bears have no predators except humans.


How many calories do they eat when preparing for hibernation?
Black bears spend a lot of time searching for food and eating. As they prepare to hibernate during the winter, bears may consume 10,000 to 12,000 calories a day. 


How many pounds do they gain prior to denning?
An adult male bear can gain more than 100 pounds during the fall, prior to denning, when large amounts of food such as acorns are available.


Do bears eat or drink while hibernating?
While hibernating in the den, black bears do not eat, drink, defecate or urinate.


How do they keep warm while hibernating?
They drop their temperature by a few degrees.


Where do bears den?
Black bears usually den in hollow trees, although some will den up in depressions in the ground, in brush piles, under upturned trees, in rock cavities and under rock overhangs. You could walk by the den and not even know it was there!


What type of habitat do they prefer?
Black bears are adaptable. Although black bears like remote, densely wooded habitats and swampy areas, they commonly frequent areas where timber has been cut for the berries and other foods that can be found there or for den sites.


How strong is a bear’s sense of smell?
Bears can smell attractants from kilometers away. One of the largest attractants out there is our garbage.


What precaution residents need to take with garbage in protecting their community and bears?
Items that are perishable like fruit, meat scraps, bones etc should be stored in the freezer and placed in the garbage bin just prior to setting it out at the roadside for garbage day pick-up. There is a much smaller window of opportunity for your garbage to become bear food the less time the bin is out on your property.


Are there other precautions people can take besides their garage in deterring bears away from their property?
Cull ripe fruit from your trees and pick up dropped fruit Clean BBQ’s after cooking to remove grease Keep all pet food indoors Remove bird feeders between March and October and keep at least 10’ off the ground.


What is the most common method of death for black bears?
Since black bears have no predators besides humans they are normally shot due to their unfortunate habits they develop because of our garbage being left out.


Do bears truly hibernate in warmer climates?
Bears live in many areas like the Lower Mainland in B.C. where the winters are short and mild. This climate results in bears not truly hibernating. They may den for a day at a time, but with a constant supply of food year round thanks to our garbage there is no real reason to sleep for long periods. This increases the change that the cubs will end up motherless. 


Can bears have heart attacks?

Yes, bears can have heart attacks and strokes just like humans and become paralyzed.


Can bears break into your house?
This doesn’t happen frequently but it certainly happens. There are bears who are repeat offenders and ultimately end up shot or euthanized. Bears will first be attracted to your garbage and than if they can’t get food from secured garbage their sense of smell may bring them in to the house looking for human food.


What are the statistics on bears killing humans?
People have been killed by black bears, but this has amounted to 1 black bear out of a million killing someone. By comparison, one grizzly bear out of 50,000 kills someone and 1 human out of 18,000 kills someone in North America. Most of what the public and many wildlife officials have believed about these animals is wrong. Those beliefs have created unnecessary fear, leading to needless killings of black bears. People will not coexist with animals they fear. As a result, bears have been eliminated from big parts of their range, and some species are endangered.


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