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Bear Gifts

Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Common characteristics of modern bears include a large body with stocky legs, a long snout, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and a short tail. While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous, with largely varied diets including both plants and animals. With the exceptions of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals.

Bear Facts

Bears can be found throughout the world. They are generally large animals, and are characterized by a plantigrade walk (on their heels, like humans), a large body, short legs, a stub of a tail, small, round ears, and forward facing eyes.

All bears are classified as carnivores, with each species having a variable degree of herbivorous tendency. The panda, for example, is almost exclusively a plant eater. The polar bear is almost entirely a carnivore.

The black bear has managed to be quite prolific and successful as bears go. The eighteen known subspecies can be found throughout the United States and Canada. Estimates of the number of black bears in North America vary, with 750,000 being the most often suggested. In the state of Pennsylvania there are believed to be more than 7000 of the animals scattered across the state.

Despite their name, black bears can actually appear in a variety of colors. There are brown black bears, white black bears, and even the blue glacier bear.

Expert estimates of the weights of the bears also seem to vary widely. Conservative measurements put the average weight of the animals is around 300 pounds. However, the degree of sexual dimorphism exhibited by the species makes accurate accounts difficult. The largest black bear recorded was a male shot in Wisconsin in 1885. The bear was 802 pounds, far heavier than would be expected.

They have a wide an varied diet. They can and will eat nearly anything. Typical of bears, they are fond of honey, and are responsible for thousands of dollars worth of damage to aphiaries each year.

The black bear has claws which are shorter and more curved than those of the grizzly bear. This allows it to have a great agility in climbing trees. Often, a sow will encourage her cubs to tree themselves while there is danger. Black bears have a characteristic way of climbing and descending trees. They mostly use their front claws for climbing and keeping a hold.

The Brown Bear has captured the human consciousness like nearly no other animal can. It presents an image so like ourselves that we often get caught up in the "cuteness" and forget that it is a wild animal that we are dealing with. The brown bear is often seen as the cuddly buffoon of animation, and the "Teddy" bear of children and collectors alike. In reality, the brown bear is a complex and fascinating animal deserving of great respect.

The brown bear distinguishes itself from the other ursines by virtue of its shoulder hump, which is caused by muscles which are used for digging. The color of the animal varies from a light creamy color through to black. It has a dished facial profile and very long claws on the front paws. In addition, has a wider distribution than any of the other bears, and can be found throuhout the world.

The animal has been found in such diverse places as Europe, Japan, North Asia, the western Canadian provinces, and the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. This diversity does not limit itself to purely geographical happenings, as the bear is also found in a great number of different habitats as well. Brown bears can be found on the plains, in the forests, the tundra, and in subalpine mountain areas.

At one time, the brown bear could be found throughout the North American continent. However, excessive hunting and destruction of the animal's habitat have all but wiped out this majestic creature.

This animal's weight varies widely throughout the course of the year. Some can even double their weigh between emerging from their dens in the Spring and returning in the Fall.

The males can weigh anywhere from 300 to 860 pounds, with the females coming in somewhere between 205 and 455 pounds. The average size of these bears is difficult to pinpoint, because it seems to depend greatly on the food sources available.

The island grizzlies of Alaska (Kodiak and Admiralty) are considered the largest land carnivores in the world, and live on a diet of fish and other rich food. The inland animals are smaller by some 30%.

Of the browns, people tend to be more familiar with the grizzly bear. This animal is well known for it's agressive nature, and it is for this reason that many folks believe it gets its name. Not so! The name "grizzly" comes from the "grizzling" of its fur, which gives it a lighter color at the tips of hairs.

Brown bears reach sexual maturity somewhere between their 4 1/2 to 7th years. Females and males mature at approximately the same time, but males often do not become successful breeders until they are 8-10 years old due to competition with older, stronger males.

Mating between browns takes place from early May to mid-July Implantation of the egg in the uterus, however, does not occur until sometime in Oct.-Nov. 1-4 cubs are born during winter hibernation of the female, with 2 being most common, sometime between January and March.

The cubs will stay with the sow up to 2 1/2 years, meaning that the female may only breed about once every 3 years or so. Given that bears generally live only until they are 20-25 years of age, this does not give very many opportunities to reproduce.

Like most other bears, the brown bears are longers; with the notable exception of females with cubs. During the mating season, males and females may pair up and mate frequently for up to two weeks.

The females require the stimulation of frequent mating before they will ovulate. While fertile, she may mate with several males, leading to cubs in a litter which may not all have the same father. This is one of the factors that makes research into bears more difficult, since paternity is often hard to determine.

The home ranges of bears often overlap. The ranges of males will often intersect those of several females. Bears will not generally attack other bears which wander in to their territories.

They will even congregate peacefully in places where food is plentiful such as garbage dumps and salmon streams. In such places, the big, dominant males will usually get the choice fishing areas.

Brown bears are technically carnivores, but in practice most of their diet consists of plant matter such as sedges, grasses, bulbs, seeds, berries, and roots. They will also eat insects, fish, and small mammals. Some of these bears have even developed predatory practices on large animals, including moose, caribou, and elk.

Bears can be found throughout the world. They are generally large animals, and are characterized by a plantigrade walk (on their heels, like humans), a large body, short legs, a stub of a tail, small, round ears, and forward facing eyes.

About the Author:
Keith Londrie II is the Webmaster of A website that specializes in providing information on bears that you can research on the internet at your own pace.



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