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Did you know that not all black bears are black? And that they have one of the most sensitive noses in the world? Learn more about their characteristics and habitat!


David Mizejewski: Happy National Wildlife Week! We’re going to talk a little bit about black bears. Now, despite “black” being in their name, not all black bears are black. Many of them are actually brown or almost like a rusty cinnamon color, and there’s even some populations that have like a blue gray fur and one population that actually has white fur; white black bears! So they’re a species that has a really wide range all across North America, that’s why you get some of this variation. You might actually have black bears where you live!

Peter Gros: Yes, indeed. It’s amazing how many more black bears there are now. There are as many now as that were in the 1800s, imagine that. So the chances of an encounter when you’re out hiking, or backpacking, or orienteering, or any time in the woods if you’re fortunate enough to see a black bear enjoy it at a distance through your binoculars.

Peter Gros: Here’s an interesting thing about black bears. They have one of the most sensitive noses in the world. Food is what drives them. They have to fatten up to be able to hibernate for the winter. So never leave your pet food out, and if you’re camping, never leave your food out. If a black bear becomes habituated to people and associates people with food, you may have written a death sentence. They get three strikes, and then sometimes they have to be euthanized. So enjoy them at a distance, bring your pet food inside, never leave food out, and appreciate the fact that our national black bears are back for us to see.

David Mizejewski: That’s exactly right. And you know, this is a perfect example of how we can very easily coexist, even with big animals. They’re not interested in us, but as Peter said, as long as you don’t feed them or habituate them to human presence, you’re not going to have any problems. And that really is what National Wildlife Week is all about, celebrating our wild neighbors. So I hope everyone out there takes the pledge right now.


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