Black bears are the only species of bear found in Shenandoah National Park. Cubs are born hairless, weighing about eight ounces, and with their eyes closed. ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System, US Fish and Wildlife Service, American Black Bear. Females carry the cub(s) for 6 weeks. Black bears generally require large areas of diverse habitat to thrive. Nevertheless, threats to this iconic animal do exist. As indicated above, black bears can become a nuisance when they seek sources of food and come in close contact with people. While there were probably once as many as two million black bears in North America before European colonization, the population declined to a low of … This was an extensive series of studies that also examined the relationship between gypsy moth defoliation and bear ecology. Better management and changing ecological conditions have resulted in increases in black bear numbers throughout their geographic range. Foraging activities by bears probably help with decomposition in forested environments where they tear apart logs and snags to gain access to insects or where they may excavate plants from the ground. Since the 1960s, much of Shenandoah's hardwood forest has reached mast producing age. Males may be from about 20 to 60 percent larger than females. In some parts of the world, bear gall bladders and paws are believed to have traditional medicinal value, and this has led to a lucrative market in these items - a market which ultimatley increases poaching of bears. Eyesight at longer distances is poor. Bears will raid orchards, beehives, and agricultural crops. The National Park Service has taken extensive measures to keep bears and people separated from one another. North American Bear Center The American black bear (Ursus americanus, previously known as Euarctos americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. Bear populations persisted however in the Allegheny Mountains to the west, the descendents of which are the most likely source of the current park population. As their name indicates, these bears generally have shaggy black hair. Male black bears (boars) are between five and six feet long and two to three feet tall and they typically weigh between 100 and 300 pounds. They will eat grubs and other insects, roots, flowers, grasses, acorns, fruit, and carrion, as well as groundhogs, deer, and other small mammals. When backcountry camping make sure to store food in an approved bear-resistant food canister. Black bear predators include other black bears, man, and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horriblis) which are not present at Shenandoah. Black bears are at the top of the food chain. 22835, (540) 999-3500 Black bears vary considerably in size, depending on the quality of the food available. Most home ranges extended well beyond park boundaries. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty among more than 120 nations, provides measures to curb illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products across international boundaries, help to protect the black bear from poaching. ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System, US Fish and Wildlife Service For example, when human garbage isn't stored properly, black bears view it as a food source and may become a problem in residential areas. The mortality rate for first-year cubs is about 20% in Virginia. It is the continent's smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Bears are most active at dawn and dusk but also are seen by visitors during daylight hours.They have a keen sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight at short distances. The American Black Bear lives throughout much of the continent, including northern Canada and Alaska south into Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In addition, poaching, or illegal killing, is also a threat to black bears in Virginia. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, staff from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and University (VPI) studied bear population dynamics, denning, movements, habitat, and diet in Shenandoah. Bears, National Park Service American black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. The adult black bear has small eyes, rounded ears, a long snout, a large body, and a short tail. Black bears may occasionally prey on domestic sheep and pigs when their natural foods are scarce. Through the protection offered by the Park, the bear population gradually increased through the 1950s to an estimated 75 individuals park wide. The American … Title, Shenandoah National Park By the early 1950s, bear sightings were reported from all three districts with an obvious concentration in the South District. Stands of mast producing trees (most importantly oaks) continue to mature and in good years are producing ever larger acorn crops. Females will have their cubs around February and nurse them in the den. By the early 1900s, bear populations were nearly eliminated from lands that are now within the park. Review how to enjoy bears safely. Feeding during the fall is intense with one to two pound gains per day. While there were probably once as many as two million black bears in North America before European colonization, the population declined to a low of 200,000 as a result of habitat destruction and hunting. The mosaic of agricultural lands, woodlots and stream corridors surrounding Shenandoah created nearly ideal conditions for the bear population to expand and disperse. Emergency Phone: 1-800-732-0911, Species Profile for American Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Sows become sexually mature at age 3 or 4. Den sites within the park are most commonly located within hollow trees but have also been found in snags, rock crevices, brush piles, and ground excavations. Luray, VA 3655 U.S. Highway 211 East Two bears were reported within the newly established park in 1937 and by 1944 the estimated bear population within the Park was ten individuals. Recently Updated On the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, the last bear was reported in Albemarle County in 1910. Visit the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries to learn about living with Black Bears In Virginia. Park staff have periodically been involved in bear population monitoring efforts. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. They will emerge in April or May, usually after the adult males have been out of their own dens for a while. As a result, they eat animals that are more readily captured due to age or weakness caused by injury or illness thus having some influence on population dynamics of some species. When visiting the park you have a responsibility to keep your distance from the bears, not attempt to feed any wildlife in the park, and to properly handle, store, and dispose of your food and garbage. Species Profile for American Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Females (sows) range in weight between 100 and 175 pounds. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. We believe that the black bear population within the Park ranges from the low to high hundreds, depending on the availability and distribution of natural forage, particularly mast crops, the degree of annual recruitment and mortality within the population, and seasonal influences such as breeding cycles, juvenile dispersal, and hunting pressure from adjacent lands. Despite this work, there are still many questions about black bears in the Park. By current estimates, more than 900,000 are living today on the continent with 5,000 to 6,000 of those in Virginia. They also frequent garbage dumps or may raid the trash bins of businesses or private homes. National Geographic Society, Bear, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. After emerging from their winter dens in spring, bears seek southerly facing slopes at lower elevations for forage and move to northerly and easterly facing slopes at higher elevations as summer progresses. Cubs usually weigh between seven ounces and one pound at birth. The American black bear consists of only one species, but its colour varies, even among members of the same litter. At … Bear, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Sort By: The American Black Bear lives throughout much of the continent, including northern Canada and Alaska south into Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. A female will keep her newborn cubs with her until she is ready to mate again, every other year. American Black Bear. Females measure from 130 to 190 centimeters (50 to 75 inches) and weigh 40 to 80 kilograms (90 to 175 pounds). Black bears are not considered to be true hibernators but they do not eat, drink, defecate, or urinate while denning. In addition, increasing human populations in conjunction with increasing bear populations can lead to negative interactions that may harm individual bears. Bears are particularly successful at Shenandoah National Park because the park provides large areas of contiguous, high quality, forest habitat. Coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcat (Felix rufus) may prey on cubs.

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