Black Bear Facts
Diet: Omnivore – typically consists of 80% plants, 15% insects, and 5% animals
Black bears are North America’s most familiar and common bears. They typically live in forests and are excellent tree climbers, but are also found in mountains and swamps. Despite their name, black bears can be blue-gray or blue-black, brown, cinnamon, or even (very rarely) white.The Florida Black Bear is known for being smaller and less fierce than other black bears, but it is still important to be aware, respectful and cautious.
There are between 2,500 and 3,000 Florida Black Bears located throughout the state from the Everglades to the Panhandle
Black bears are opportunistic eaters. Most of their diet consists of grasses, roots, berries, and insects. They will also eat fish and mammals – including carrion – and easily develop a taste for human foods and garbage. Bears who become habituated to human food at campsites, cabins, or rural homes can become dangerous and are often killed, thus the frequent reminder: Please don’t feed the bears!
Solitary animals, black bears roam large territories , which may overlap peacefully with another bear’s territory. A male black bear’s range is 50 to 120 square miles and a female black bear’s range is 10 to 25 square miles.
In the fall, bears are eating all they can to put on weight for the long winters nap. An average adult human eats about 2,000 calories a day – an adult bear can consume up to 20,000 calories per day in fall! They also consume great quantities of water. The more a bear has fattened up, the sooner it will find a suitable bed and begin to hibernate. Leaner bears will need to spend more time bulking up before retiring for the season.
When winter arrives, black bears spend the season dormant in their dens, feeding on body fat they have built up by eating ravenously all summer and fall. They make their dens in caves, burrows, brush piles, or other sheltered spots – sometimes even in tree holes high above the ground. Black bears are not true hibernators. During their winter dormant period, they do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate, but may wake up if disturbed.
Female black bears give birth to two or three blind, helpless cubs in mid-winter and nurse them in the den until spring, when all emerge in search of food. The cubs will stay with their very protective mother for about two years.
Links: Krystal Sellers, a local artist, created an award-winning sculpture to memorialize all the black bears and other wildlife endangered by cars. She talks about it in this video, “Sorrowful“.