Thursday, September 13, 2007

The most common bear

Black bears are the smallest and most common bear in North America (at a later date, we'll discuss nonAmerican bears).

My sister is always nervous that she’ll see one when hiking in the woods. In fact, so nervous that she sees lots . . . well, lots of “stump bears” (bears that don’t move and on closer examination turn out to just be tree stumps).

I used to live in a heavily treed neighborhood 25 miles outside of Seattle. One day I pull out of my driveway and look down the street to see this weird looking dog. As I got closer I suddenly realized it was a young black bear on all fours ambling across the road from one empty lot to another. I didn’t stick around to see if Mama was right behind him!

Black bears are usually 4 to 7 feet long. They weigh between 125 and 500 pounds, depending on age, season, and food supply. Very well fed bears can be heavier, closer to 900 pounds. The one I saw was probably about 2 ½ feet long. (I didn’t pick him up to see how much he weighed!)


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