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Louisiana Symbols, Animal: Black Bear
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Adopted in 1992
Louisiana black bears are black, some with a distinct white "blaze" on their chest. Adult males generally weigh from 250 to over 400 pounds and adult females range from 120 to over 275 pounds. Body length of adults, nose to tail, ranges up to 6 feet.
Female black bears begin to mate at 3 to 5 years of age and have one to four cubs every other year. The young remain with their mother the first year, den with her the following winter, and search for their own territory in their second summer.
Bears tend to range over large areas in search of basic needs such as food, escape cover, den sites, and mates. Males have been known to range over 100 square miles while females occupy much smaller home ranges, often less than 10 square miles.
Although classified as carnivores, Louisiana black bears are not active predators. These intelligent mammals are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything that is available. Although natural foods, such as berries and acorns, comprise a majority of a bear's diet, bears readily take advantage of food options provided by humans. When available, bears may feed on agricultural crops such as corn, wheat, oats, and sugarcane, occasionally damage beehives in search of honey, and will readily become habituated to human garbage when the opportunity exists.
Black bears are very intelligent, shy and secretive animals, and generally work hard at avoiding contact with humans. Dangerous situations may occur whenever close human activity is perceived as a danger to cubs or otherwise threatening. The best advice is for humans to avoid close contact with bears.
The black bear became our official state mammal im 1992.
Anatomy: American Black Bears are up to 6 feet (1.8 m) long and weigh up to 300 pounds (135 kg). Their long, thick fur ranges in color from black to brown. Like all bears, they are plantigrade (flat-footed). The front claws are longer than the rear claws. Its habitat in West Virginia is primarily in the eastern mountain region. The black bear still roams freely throughout 36 states and Canada.
Behavior: Black Bears are good swimmers and can also climb trees. They have a good sense of smell but have poor eyesight. They are afraid of Grizzly Bears and stay far away from them.
Cubs: Two to three cubs are born during the winter while the mother hibernates. Cubs stay with the mother for about one year.
Diet: American Black Bears are omnivores who eat plants, leaves, fruits, berries, nuts, roots, honey, insects, and other small mammals.
Reproduction: Females reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years of age and mating will take place in June, July and August. Pairs may come together for a few hours or several days, copulating many times. Gestation is approximately 220 days and the cubs are born in their mother's winter den in January or February. Cubs are weaned at around 8 months but may remain with their mother for a year and a half.
Social Organization: Black bears are usually solitary animals except females with young. A pair may come together for several days during mating season and in time of abundant food, several bears may feed closely together with little interaction. Male bears keep large territories that overlap the smaller ranges of several females. Bears will leave territorial signposts both through scent marking and by leaving long claw marks in tree bark.
||Animalia -- animals
||Chordata -- chordates
||Vertebrata -- vertebrates
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