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Black Bear Yearlings Still Nursing

4-6-18 mother black bear with three yearlings nursing in light snow by MHolland 1077

Female Black Bears mate every two years. Their young are born in January or February and  they stay with their mother for the first year and a half of their lives. Although many sources state that cubs are weaned during their first summer, I discovered firsthand that young bears continue to nurse well into their second year (even though they’ve been eating solid food since they were a few months old).

Two different times while I was within a stone’s throw of her, the mother lay down on the ground and her yearlings proceeded to nurse. Soon, in May or June, shortly before she mates, the mother will drive her yearlings away, forcing them to disperse. Life’s lessons have been taught. By their second spring the yearlings have learned the basics from their mother: what to eat and where to find it, how to defend themselves, where to find safety and how to interact and communicate with other black bears. and they should be able to survive on their own.

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19 responses

  1. judilindsey

    Mary,

    This is precious!

    Judi 🙂

    >

    April 4, 2018 at 6:50 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    My thought was….”what a precious photo”…..(hard to re-word that). Such a tender moment…..you were so fortunate to witness that! Mommy Bear trusted your presence.

    April 4, 2018 at 7:56 am

  3. Dianne Wright

    What a photo – thank you !

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    April 4, 2018 at 7:57 am

  4. Guy Stoye

    Marvelous photo, Mary, as usual!

    April 4, 2018 at 8:09 am

  5. Sue Wetmore

    This saga is truly a wonder! How fortunate that this family tolerated you .
    Thanks for sharing this intimate biew into the black bear family.

    April 4, 2018 at 8:11 am

  6. Margo Nutt

    Your photos continue to be AMAZING!

    April 4, 2018 at 8:11 am

  7. Bill On The Hill...

    Hi Mary… I agree with the above comments too, a priceless moment indeed!

    Mary would you consider the coyote at the top of the food chain here in New England or perhaps the black bear as well?
    I suggest the black bear to be included because as adults, they do sniff out the scent of newly born fawns as they do indeed run off with them & consume them…
    As I understand this, they remember from year to year where the does prefer to give birth as well, as this would seem logical in that they return to other known food sources through the season too, i.e., beech nuts, acorns, apples, black raspberries, etc.

    Another tremendous post btw & thank you,
    Bill Farr… 🙂

    April 4, 2018 at 8:24 am

  8. Char Delabar

    >

    April 4, 2018 at 8:30 am

  9. Annie Hale

    Just love your series on the 3 Black Bears!!! So cool to see the photos, hear about your proximity, and learn about the bears! Was/is it a special life event? Did you leave your new puppy home? Many thanks, Mary.

    April 4, 2018 at 8:44 am

    • Hi Annie,
      It was the highlight of my photographic experiences. I was so honored. I left Emma in the car, which I rarely do. Must have had a premonition!

      April 4, 2018 at 10:55 am

  10. Such a great photo. Obviously this mother bear is a member of le leche for bears!

    April 4, 2018 at 9:12 am

    • Hi Annie,
      It was the highlight of my photographic experiences. I was so honored. I left Emma in the car, which I rarely do. Must have had a premonition!

      April 4, 2018 at 11:05 am

  11. Such a great photo. Obviously this mother bear is a member of le leche!

    April 4, 2018 at 9:13 am

  12. Katie Koerten

    I can reeeeeeally relate to this mama right now.

    April 4, 2018 at 9:28 am

  13. Peggy Timmerman

    How amazing that you were able to capture these moments in the life of these bears! Thanks for explaining so much about them to the rest of us. What a treat.

    April 4, 2018 at 10:26 am

  14. Peter Denis

    This series of photos is quite amazing! Congratulations on becoming an honorary black bear!

    April 4, 2018 at 11:56 am

  15. Robin Sedgwick

    What a momma!

    April 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm

  16. I’ve been enjoying these posts so much. What an incredible privilege to witness this bear family, Mary. The gods were smiling upon you that day. 🙂

    April 4, 2018 at 8:55 pm

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