Bear Facts

black bears near iron mountain miMany people journey deep into the woods with tents and campers. They want to enjoy the beauty of the forest and see wildlife. People have had the opportunity to see an eagle soaring, playful otters splashing in a lake, a doe and her fawn sneaking through the brush or even a black bear. Seeing black bears in the woods is becoming more common than it used to be.

In past years, a trip to one of any area dumps could almost assure that a person would see a bear. Now, with many of the dumps closed, bears have changed to a different restaurant - the campgrounds. The bears do not want the campers - just their coolers, picnic baskets and other items which scavenging bears might drag off. By using logic and common sense, campers can cut their chances of being hurt or even approached by bears.

These simple steps will help insure that these campground raiders will stay clear of your area:

l. DO NOT FEED WILD BEARS. Once you begin feeding a wild bear, its natural instinct to fear humans will gradually lessen and may cause it to be more aggressive and hostile toward humans when it is deprived of the free lunch it had become used to.

2. STORE FOOD IN A SAFE PLACE. Never store food in the tent. The best place to store food is in a cooler, and the cooler should be locked in the car. If you do not have a car along, store the food in plastic bags and suspend it high between trees. It can also be suspended at the end of a tree branch, as far away from the tree trunk as possible.

3. KEEP YOUR CAMP CLEAN. Bears are attracted to greasy smelling garbage, so dispose of garbage and paper plates in a trash container as soon as possible.

4. REPORT PROBLEM BEARS. If a bear continues to visit your campsite, notify a game warden or the National Forest Service so they can keep track of the bear and have it moved if it continues to cause problems.

5. STAY AWAY FROM BEAR CUBS. Although these little fur-balls may look harmless, a mother bear who has been separated from her cubs poses the greatest threat. If she senses that her cubs are in danger, she may turn violent very quickly. When you see a bear, stay calm and head for your car or camper right away or just get out of the immediate area. Do not run. Shouting in a stern voice may or may not scare the bear away. Usually the bear will run first, often at first sight of you, and you both end up running at full speed in opposite directions. If all else fails, climb a tree. Bears are not likely to climb the tree when someone is already in it. They may camp down at the bottom of the tree and wait for you, so be prepared to stay awhile. If you are carrying food, throw it as far away from you as possible. Give the food to the bear. Once the bear smells food, you might as well give it up - the bear isn't leaving without it.

By learning to deal with animals in the woods, your stay in the Northwoods will be safer and more enjoyable.

The Black Bear

Description: A large male black bear weighs on an average of 300 to 400 pounds (the female less, the male occasionally up to 600 lbs). It stands 27 to 36 inches high at the shoulder and is 4 to 5 1/2 feet long. Although black bears come in a range of colors, the black bear in this area is known for its jet black coat. Travel: Black bears are not migratory, but males do roam large areas, sometimes traveling up to 100 miles. The animal's range is usually determined by the food supply in the area. A range of 5 to 15 square miles is usually sufficient for a bear to satisfy its needs. Habits: The black bear is often referred to as the clown of the woods. Its rolling, flat-footed walk gives it a clumsy, bumble-footed appearance. It is often seen as a playful animal, and this causes many people to underestimate the bear. The bear is one of the most intelligent of our wild animals. Senses: The bear is somewhat nearsighted, but sight is not an important sense for the bear. The bear's sense of smell is his greatest asset. Because 75% of its diet is vegetation, the sense of smell plays an important role. The black bear has the largest ears of any of the four American bears. Its large ears help it to hear danger coming from far away, thus enabling it to retreat into the thickets, or leave the area. Communication: A large bear will roar, growl, snarl, snort, cough, grunt and pop its teeth, according to the situation. Locomotion: When traveling from place to place, the bear moves at about 2 to 3 miles per hour. This lazy, flat footed shuffle can be very deceptive. When moving at an all-out run, the black bear has been clocked at 30 mph. This is an animal that can outrun a horse over short distances. The black bear is also a very good climber and swimmer. Life Span: Black bears have a life span of about 15 years, although they have lived longer in captivity.


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