The black bear in western Henrico. Credit: Tom Topinka
Today’s Times-Dispatch had a report from western Henrico of a black bear sighting in a resident’s backyard. The bear is probably a young male, which go out in search of their own territory in the spring when they’re about one year old. The game department has some good information on living with black bears that they send out every spring. Click here for that.
Click “Continue Reading” to read some black bear myths they address on their website.
Myth: A bear standing on its hind legs is about to charge or attack.
Fact: A bear stands on its hind legs to get a better view and smell of the surroundings. This is not an aggressive posture, just a way to determine who or what piqued its interest.
Myth: Bears are dangerous predators.
Fact: Although classified as carnivores, black bears are omnivores, and opportunistic feeders. This means that they eat both plants and animals. Over 80% of their diets consist of vegetation, fruit, and nuts. The remainder includes mostly insects and larva, carrion, fish, and occasionally small mammals.
Myth: One of the most dangerous encounters is getting between a mother black bear and her cubs.
Fact: Because black bears can tree their cubs, it is rare for them to injure a person in that situation. Black bear cubs are great at climbing and will be sent up a tree if the mother bear feels nervous about a situation. The mother bear will either run off to lead the danger away or stay close by until the perceived threat passes. Just like with any young animals you never want to try to get near them. If you see a mother bear and cubs give them some space, be quiet, and retreat slowly.
Myth: Bears are unpredictable.
Fact: Bears use body language and vocalizations to show their intentions. Learning about bear behavior can be beneficial to people who travel in bear country. The website www.bear.org has a terrific video on interpreting behaviors in bears called “Nervous Behavior”.
Myth: Bears have poor eyesight.
Fact: Bears see in color and have good vision similar to humans
Myth: Shooting or relocating a bear that has been attracted to your property because of a food source will solve the problem.
Fact: Removing a bear and not the attractant will only create a newly available habitat niche so another bear can move right back in, creating a vicious cycle of killing.