Well, it’s been a very long, cold and brutal winter once again. However, as always promised to us comes the spring thaw. Sometimes late and sometimes early, but this year, it seems to be right on time. It’s the time of year that the familiar birds start to return and nibble on the berries left on tree branches that were spared from old man winter. The skunks and porcupines start to roam about, as do the other smaller animals looking for that special someone who may come their way.
This is also the time of year that a somewhat less familiar face to those who are not able to live close to nature, will appear.
Every year when old man winter arrives,big bear 1 the black bear hibernates in their den feeding on body fat that they have built up through ravenous eating all spring, summer, and fall. Dens are built in numerous places, and vary in size. During their dormant time, female black bears give birth to two or three cubs mid-winter. They are nursed in the den until spring, when all emerge and go in search of food. These extremely cute and playful little cubs stay with their mother for the first two years of their life.
Each and every year, when the thaw arrives, and temperatures are climbing, the black bear starts to stir in his/her den and eventually makes its way out. Out in search of food and water. Black bears are opportunistic eaters. They are omnivorous: plants, fruits, nuts, insects, honey, fish, and small mammals. They also easily develop a taste for human food. When a bear learns that they can easily find a tasty meal, they will continue to return again, and again.
Despite their name, black bears can be blue-gray or blue-black, brown, cinnamon, or even (very rarely) white. These different colors are often referred to as color phases. Depending on genetics in the area, the percentage of ‘phases’ varies. In Northern Saskatchewan where we have our bear area, our color phase average hovers around 35% or greater.