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 PREDATOR - The Black Bear

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PostSubject: PREDATOR - The Black Bear   Sat May 05, 2018 3:42 am


The Black Bear


The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The American black bear is the world's most common bear species.

Conservation status

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species: U. americanus

Binomial name
Ursus americanus

Range


Behavior
Black bears tend to be solitary animals, with the exception of mothers and cubs. The bears usually forage alone, but will tolerate each other and forage in groups if there is an abundance of food in one area.

Most black bears hibernate depending on local weather conditions and availability of food during the winter months. In regions where there is a consistent food supply and warmer weather throughout the winter, bears may not hibernate at all or do so for a very brief time. Females give birth and usually remain denned throughout the winter, but males and females without young may leave their dens from time to time during winter months.

Physical characteristics
The American black bear is the smallest North American bear. It is usually  black with a tan muzzle and a  white patch on its chest. Black bears in the west may be  cinnamon brown, and in parts of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in Canada the black bear may even be  silver-grey or  white.

The black bear has small, rounded ears and inch long claws on its feet. The black bear doesn't have a large shoulder hump like the brown, or grizzly bear. The black bear stands about three feet from shoulder to feet and it's 4-6 feet from head to toe. Males are usually much larger than females. The male usually weighs between 130 to 350 pounds, but it can weigh as much as 600 pounds. The female weighs 90 to 175 pounds.

Hunting and diet
Although the black bear is in the Carnivora order, it is an opportunistic omnivore, and most of its diet is made up of plants. It eats twigs, buds, leaves, nuts, roots, fruit, corn, and berries. It also eats bees and honey and it tears up rotting logs to get at grubs, beetles, and insects. The black bear catches fish and small to medium-sized mammals. It also eats carrion.

In the summer, the black bear begins preparing for winter and eats lots of foods that are rich in carbohydrates like berries. The black bear can gain as much as 30 pounds a week in the summer.


Social structure and home range
Bears are solitary by nature, except when in family groups of mothers and cubs or in pairs during the mating season.

Black bears may congregate in areas of high food density, such as oak stands, berry patches, or farm fields. When abundant food sources are found across large areas, bears tend to tolerate each other more than usual, mostly because they cannot defend such a rich food source from competitors.

While bears may defend a food resource or mate while they are present, black bears are not territorial. They do not patrol or defend a specific area from intrusion by other bears. Bears respect a certain personal space, but often several animals overlap each other's living space at different times. A bear's living space that provides food, water, and adequate cover is called a "home range."


Reproduction and life cycle
Sows usually produce their first litter at the age of 35 years, with those living in more developed areas tending to get pregnant at younger ages. The breeding period usually occurs in the June–July period, though it can extend to August in the species' northern range. The breeding period lasts for 2–3 months. Both sexes are promiscuous. Males try to mate with several females, but large, dominant ones may violently claim a female if another mature male comes near. The gestation period lasts 235 days, and litters are usually born in late January to early February. Litter size is between one and six cubs, typically two or three.

At birth, cubs weigh 280–450 g (0.62–0.99 lb), and measure 20.5 cm (8.1 in) in length. They are born with fine, grey, down-like hair, and their hind quarters are underdeveloped. They typically open their eyes after 28–40 days, and begin walking after 5 weeks. Cubs are dependent on their mother's milk for 30 weeks, and will reach independence at 16–18 months. They reach sexual maturity at the age of three years, and attain their full growth at 5 years.

The average lifespan in the wild is 18 years, but some individuals can live to be over 24 years. The record age of a wild black bear was 39 years.

Distribution and habitat
Throughout their range, habitats preferred by American black bears have a few shared characteristics. Black bears are extremely adaptable and show a great variation in habitat types, though they are primarily found in forested areas with thick ground vegetation and an abundance of fruits, nuts, and vegetation. In the northern areas, they can be found in the tundra, and they will sometimes forage in fields and meadows. Although found in the largest numbers in wild, undisturbed areas and rural regions, black bears can adapt to surviving in some numbers in peri-urban regions as long as they contain easily accessible foods and some vegetative coverage.

In most of the contiguous United States, black bears today are usually found in heavily vegetated mountainous areas. For bears living in the American Southwest and Mexico, habitat usually consists of stands of chaparral and pinyon juniper woods. In this region, bears occasionally move to more open areas to feed on prickly pear cactus. In the coastal areas of the Southeast (such as Florida, the Carolinas, and Louisiana), bears inhabit a mixture of flatwoods, bays, and swampy hardwood sites.


Wolf vs Black Bear
Black bear interactions with wolves are much rarer than with brown bears, due to differences in habitat preferences. The majority of black bear encounters with wolves occur in the species' northern range, with no interactions being recorded in Mexico. Despite the black bear being more powerful on a one-to-one basis, packs of wolves have been recorded to kill black bears on numerous occasions without eating them. Unlike brown bears, black bears frequently lose against wolves in disputes over kills. Wolf packs typically kill black bears when the large animals are in their hibernation cycle.

©️Wikipedia
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