Bears can be found throughout the
world. They are generally large animals, and are characterized
by a plantigrade walk (on their heels, like humans),
a large body, short legs, a stub of a tail, small, round
ears, and forward facing eyes.
All bears are classified as carnivores, with each species
having a variable degree of herbivorous tendency. The
panda, for example, is almost exclusively a plant eater.
The polar bear is almost entirely a carnivore.
The black bear has managed to be quite prolific and
successful as bears go. The eighteen known subspecies
can be found throughout the United States and Canada.
Estimates of the number of black bears in North America
vary, with 750,000 being the most often suggested. In
the state of Pennsylvania there are believed to be more
than 7000 of the animals scattered across the state.
Despite their name, black bears can actually appear
in a variety of colors. There are brown black bears,
white black bears, and even the blue glacier bear.
Expert estimates of the weights of the bears also seem
to vary widely. Conservative measurements put the average
weight of the animals is around 300 pounds. However,
the degree of sexual dimorphism exhibited by the species
makes accurate accounts difficult. The largest black
bear recorded was a male shot in Wisconsin in 1885.
The bear was 802 pounds, far heavier than would be expected.
They have a wide an varied diet. They can and will eat
nearly anything. Typical of bears, they are fond of
honey, and are responsible for thousands of dollars
worth of damage to aphiaries each year.
The black bear has claws which are shorter and more
curved than those of the grizzly bear. This allows it
to have a great agility in climbing trees. Often, a
sow will encourage her cubs to tree themselves while
there is danger. Black bears have a characteristic way
of climbing and descending trees. They mostly use their
front claws for climbing and keeping a hold.
The Brown Bear has captured the human consciousness
like nearly no other animal can. It presents an image
so like ourselves that we often get caught up in the
"cuteness" and forget that it is a wild animal that
we are dealing with. The brown bear is often seen as
the cuddly buffoon of animation, and the "Teddy" bear
of children and collectors alike. In reality, the brown
bear is a complex and fascinating animal deserving of
The brown bear distinguishes itself from the other ursines
by virtue of its shoulder hump, which is caused by muscles
which are used for digging. The color of the animal
varies from a light creamy color through to black. It
has a dished facial profile and very long claws on the
front paws. In addition, has a wider distribution than
any of the other bears, and can be found throuhout the
The animal has been found in such diverse places as
Europe, Japan, North Asia, the western Canadian provinces,
and the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming,
and Alaska. This diversity does not limit itself to
purely geographical happenings, as the bear is also
found in a great number of different habitats as well.
Brown bears can be found on the plains, in the forests,
the tundra, and in subalpine mountain areas.
At one time, the brown bear could be found throughout
the North American continent. However, excessive hunting
and destruction of the animal's habitat have all but
wiped out this majestic creature.
This animal's weight varies widely throughout the course
of the year. Some can even double their weigh between
emerging from their dens in the Spring and returning
in the Fall.
The males can weigh anywhere from 300 to 860 pounds,
with the females coming in somewhere between 205 and
455 pounds. The average size of these bears is difficult
to pinpoint, because it seems to depend greatly on the
food sources available.
The island grizzlies of Alaska (Kodiak and Admiralty)
are considered the largest land carnivores in the world,
and live on a diet of fish and other rich food. The
inland animals are smaller by some 30%.
Of the browns, people tend to be more familiar with
the grizzly bear. This animal is well known for it's
agressive nature, and it is for this reason that many
folks believe it gets its name. Not so! The name "grizzly"
comes from the "grizzling" of its fur, which gives it
a lighter color at the tips of hairs.
Brown bears reach sexual maturity somewhere between
their 4 1/2 to 7th years. Females and males mature at
approximately the same time, but males often do not
become successful breeders until they are 8-10 years
old due to competition with older, stronger males.
Mating between browns takes place from early May to
mid-July Implantation of the egg in the uterus, however,
does not occur until sometime in Oct.-Nov. 1-4 cubs
are born during winter hibernation of the female, with
2 being most common, sometime between January and March.
The cubs will stay with the sow up to 2 1/2 years, meaning
that the female may only breed about once every 3 years
or so. Given that bears generally live only until they
are 20-25 years of age, this does not give very many
opportunities to reproduce.
Like most other bears, the brown bears are longers;
with the notable exception of females with cubs. During
the mating season, males and females may pair up and
mate frequently for up to two weeks.
The females require the stimulation of frequent mating
before they will ovulate. While fertile, she may mate
with several males, leading to cubs in a litter which
may not all have the same father. This is one of the
factors that makes research into bears more difficult,
since paternity is often hard to determine.
The home ranges of bears often overlap. The ranges of
males will often intersect those of several females.
Bears will not generally attack other bears which wander
in to their territories.
They will even congregate peacefully in places where
food is plentiful such as garbage dumps and salmon streams.
In such places, the big, dominant males will usually
get the choice fishing areas.
Brown bears are technically carnivores, but in practice
most of their diet consists of plant matter such as
sedges, grasses, bulbs, seeds, berries, and roots. They
will also eat insects, fish, and small mammals. Some
of these bears have even developed predatory practices
on large animals, including moose, caribou, and elk.
Bears can be found throughout the world. They are generally
large animals, and are characterized by a plantigrade
walk (on their heels, like humans), a large body, short
legs, a stub of a tail, small, round ears, and forward
About the Author:
Keith Londrie II is the Webmaster of http://bears.about-animals.info
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