What does the future hold for this black bear cub? Some call him Leo. This cute little bear has adopted this waste disposal site and surrounding area as his summer home. He has no trouble scaling the chain fence or crawling underneath to treat himself to what he considers to be a tasty feast.This disposal site services mainly cottages and a few year round residences in beautiful Muskoka located in Northen Ontario In my opinion our cottage association should hire Leo to patrol the vicinity and make sure cottagers and their guests dispose of their refuse properly and to ensure that they don’t co mingle garbage and recyclables.
I suspect that Leo is an orphan. After all what kind of parents would let their child meander along a busy road and eat garbage. Hunting, motor vehicle accidents and natural causes all contribute to bear mortality. But wait a minute maybe Leo, Isn’t orphaned. It is possible that he is abandoned. After Papa bear does his job of impregnating Mama bear, he meanders off and does not participate in rearing his offspring. Apparently if he is hungry he has no objection to eating a bear cub or other small animal. According to some google research that I did, while grizzly mama bears are fiercely protective of their young and will risk their lives for them, this is not necessarily true of mama black bears. If a mother feels threatened she will sometimes keep running even if her babies are piteously squealing for her help. Mama bear will not typically attack an aggressor harming her offspring.
The breeding season is from May until early July. Implantation of the fertilized eggs is delayed until the start of the hibernation or the denning season. The fertilized ovum float free within the uterus for about six months. Bears must have sufficient body weight for the embryos to attach to the lining of the uterus and develop into bear babies. If the mother bear does not have enough body fat to sustain implantation and growth of her future cubs the embryos will simply be reabsorbed into her body.
The cubs are usually born in January while the mother is still hibernating. A litter typically consists of one to six cubs. They are weaned at about six to eight weeks and then stay with their mother. The following year they hibernate once again with their maternal parent snuggling together for warmth and protection. In the spring when the cubs are about seventeen months and when Mama is getting ready to mate again she shoos them away-perhaps to prevent infanticide or injury from a male bear jealous of the female’s attention to her children. Mama allows them to stay in specific areas of her territory which she then avoids. The cubs are given exclusive feeding rights there. Black bears are both omnivores and carnivorous, but prefer plants and berries over meat. The mother bear seeks out adjacent territory to add to the family compound to accommodate her ever growing family. Her territory can range from two and a half to ten square miles. Daughters stay close to home but sons voluntarily travel afar. Bears can live up to twenty five years.
Bears sometimes hibernate in caves, but usually burrow into the ground to build dens. Mama does most of the work but the cubs help rake the leaves and twigs. The den is snug but allows a little extra space for movement.
So what is going to happen to Leo this winter? Perhaps the cubs name should be Leora . I never got close enough to check to see if it is a male or a female.In any event this young bear may bunk in and den with a surrogate family or build his own den.
Sometimes a bear may wake up in the winter or spring and be ravenously hungry. Sometimes well meaning individuals will put out an abundance of food for their consumption. This can be a death sentence for the bear . It can lead to cardiac arrest, similar to the phenomenon that killed multiple starving survivors after World War One.
We have invaded the space of our wildlife. How should we co exist with the back bears?Bears rarely attack although there have been isolated incidences. Black bears are as frightened of us a we are of them and prefer not to have any human contact. However we should exhibit caution. When travelling in their possible habitat it is good to travel in groups and to make your presence known by singing or talking loudly. The bear will try to avoid you. It is also good to have a can of of pepper spray or bear spray with you in case of an aggressive encounter. If you do encounter a bear speak quietly and and back away slowly, preferably in the direction that you came from. Walk, don’t run and keep your eye on the bear to see its reaction. You will probably not have to use the spray.
Many many years ago my aunt and uncle were vacationing in the Rocky mountains of Alberta. It was a beautiful day and they decided to walk along a path and then stop for a picnic. My uncle was walking ahead of his wife. He looked behind him and saw a large black bear following them.Without raising his voice he directed his wife not to look behind her and to drop the lunch basket. She did as she was told. After devouring their delicious picnic lunch the bear lumbered back into the wilds. My relatives returned to the lodge hungry but with an interesting tale to tell.
Bears should not depend on people to be fed. They should learn what foods are available in their natural habitat and how to survive there. Wildlife societies exist that care for and rehabilitate orphaned and injured bears and release them back into the wild.