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Black Bears In No Hurry to Den This Year

11-16-15 black bear apple scat 026Bountiful acorn and apple crops have enabled black bears to delay denning this fall, as this recently-discovered apple-filled bear scat attests to. Denning is triggered by a seasonal shortage of food, low temperatures, and snow cover on the ground. When these conditions cause bears to den, they typically stay within their summer range boundaries. On average black bears enter their dens in November and emerge in April, but this varies considerably with crop and temperature conditions.

Denning sequence usually begins with yearlings, followed by pregnant females, then solitary females, females with cubs, adult males, and last, subadults (not sexually mature) of both sexes. Most dens are excavated below ground, and on well-drained, upland sites. Rarely are they re-used in consecutive years. Adult males are the first to emerge in the spring, followed by subadult males and females, then females accompanied by yearlings, and finally, females with cubs of the year.

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3 responses

  1. The birds will have to wait longer for those feeders!

    November 17, 2015 at 9:46 pm

  2. Mary Hillsgrove

    I saw a mother and 3 cubs this week. They were on my driveway in north Sandwich. So amazing! Then saw the female again crossing route 25 in Sandwich

    November 18, 2015 at 6:21 am

  3. Cleone T. Graham

    I have been following the “LILY the bear” sight from black bear research station in Ely ,
    Minn. for some time- they are discovering really interesting things about black bears and their denning. A small organization with wonderful dedicated staff and volunteers. Thanks for your postings – as a fellow naturalist – i enjoy htem a great deal.
    Cleone Graham

    November 19, 2015 at 2:36 pm

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