Published by archerchick on 07 Sep 2010
BEARS – A REFERENCE
Bears — Black, Kodiak, Grizzly or Polar — can
be found throughout the United States, and are
often sought out as a prized trophy. By
definition the bear is any of a family of large
heavy mammals with long shaggy hair, a
rudimentary tail and flat-walking feet. When it
walks, the entire surface of a bear’s foot will
touch the ground, making a large, wide—spread
print, perhaps four inches across. Regardless of
the type, bears do not generally seek out
human beings, and are most adept at avoiding
us. The majority of bears killed are chance
Although the various types of bear will differ
in color and specific physical characteristics,
there are some generalities about each of them.
All will have muzzle-shaped heads, their jaws
and nose projecting outward. All have
extremely small eyes in comparison to their
overall size, small ears and large claws.
A/though normally slow in gait, they can
display sudden bursts of speed. All tend to be
nocturnal in nature.
The male bear is called a boar, the female a
SENSORY AND PHYSICAL CAPABILITIES
Black Bear —
sources indicate that the black bear has poor
vision, others state they have good eye- sight. All seem to agree
that their hearing and
sense of smell are excellent. They are also highly intelligent.
Smaller than the brown bear, the black bear is also more widespread.
They come in a variety of colors. Highly agile, they can scurry up a tree with
little effort. Top weight of a black bear is around 600 pounds. Their head is
smaller and narrower than that of their relatives, the grizzlies, and there is no
prominent shoulder hump. Their claws are shorter, more curved, and razor-sharp
for tree climbing. Although generally considered as not dangerous to man, a
black bear can easily kill a hunter, especially if cornered, wounded or threatened.
Grizzly Bear —
Termed grizzly because of the white—tipped hairs which give it
a streaked or grizzled appearance, the grizzly may reach weights of perhaps 1000
pounds. Eyesight is believed to be fairly poor, particularly when viewing stationary
objects, but its sense of smell and hearing are excellent. The grizzly is intelligent,
bold, cautious and self confident, and is considered one of the two most
dangerous animals in North America, sharing that position with the polar bear.
Normally avoiding humans, a female bear can charge suddenly if her cubs are
threatened, and is said to be able to out-run a horse for brief distances.
Kodiak Bear —
Largest of all the brown bears the Kodiak or Big Brown of Alaskan
coasts may stand over ten feet tall when on its hind legs, and can
weigh as much as 1500 pounds. Despite its bulk, the Kodiak generally
shies away from man, preferring to escape rather than fight. lt has poor
vision, but excellent hearing and scent capabilities.
Polar Bear —
Although there is currently a moratorium on hunting polar bears, the
animal is still one to consider. The largest meat eating hunter on earth, it is an
excellent swimmer. Front paws, webbed to perhaps half the length of the toes, are
capable of propelling the polar bear through one hundred yards of water in
thirty-three seconds. A mature polar bear may weigh as much as 1000 pounds or
more, and may offer a paw span of twelve to fourteen inches. Its ivory-white coat
gives it a nearly perfect camouflage. Covering its eyes and nose with its forepaw
it becomes totally camouflaged, resembling another ridge or snowdrift. The
polar bears’ greatest enemy is the walrus, which, in a one-on-one fight would
generally win out by goring the bear with its lengthy tusks.
Black Bear — Can be found throughout the United States, but the greatest
concentration are in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan and
British Columbia. Prime areas within the United States are Alaska,
Washington, Colorado and Michigan, Preferred terrain is forested, with
dense bedding and hiding thickets, adequate watering areas and occasional
open spaces containing fruits and grasses.
Grizzly Bear –Found chiefly in Alaska and Canada, although there are still
some in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
Kodiak Bear — Also known as the Alaskan brown bear, is found along the
lower Alaskan coasts, where food supply is more varied and abundant than
that available to the inland grizzly.
Polar Bear —— Found throughout the northern Arctic regions.
General — Bear diet may include mice, bird eggs and insects. Classed as carnivores they also eat a substantial amount of
vegetation. Berries and nuts are a favorite, as is honey. Bears consume ten to twelve quarts of water daily.
Black Bear — More than three quarters of their diet is vegetation, augmented by fruits and grasses. Frequently the cause of frantic
moments in hunting camps, black bears enjoy raiding garbage dumps and campsites. If necessary, they will even eat the bark off
Grizzly — The Northwestern salmon streams and the high berry patches near them are prime spots for grizzly. They also prefer
grapes, acorns, nuts, aspen leaves and twigs, pine seeds. They will kill small game, and occasionally big-game animals, eat their fill
and then bury the remainder of the animal to feed on at a later time.
Kodiak -— Said to eat anything from blueberries to beached whale carcasses, the Kodiak is especially fond of salmon.
Polar Bears — A polar bear may consume as much as fifteen to fifty pounds of meat in one sitting.It’s favorite foodstuff is seal
meat, but also feeds on fish, berries, carrion and some plant life.
MATING AND HIBERNATION
Facts You May Not Have Known:
1. Spring is the normal mating season for bears.
2. Browns, American black bears and polar bears possess a unique
capability termed “delayed implantation” — a mechanism which
allows them to actually turn-off their reproduction cycle until
the sow has fattened herself sufficiently to allow for proper
growth of the fertilized eggs. At that point the eggs will begin to
grow, normally some time during the Fall.
3. Bear cubs normally number two or three, rarely four or a single
cub. The cubs are born during the hibernation period, sometime
during late January or February.
4. Bear cubs will stay with their mother for one to two years, or
until such time as she decides to mate once again.
5. Bear cubs are born blind.
6. Perhaps one of the greatest threats to a cub comes from the male
bear, or boar, which has been known to kill an interfering
7. Substitute mothering is not uncommon for cubs who have
temporarily lost their true mother. If the mother does not
return, the foster parent may simply keep the cub with her as a
part of her family.
8. Normally inclined to avoid humans, the surest way to incur the
devastating wrath of a sow bear is to threaten her young.
DID YOU KNOW?
The early-style igloos of the Eskimos were probably fashioned
after the dens of the polar bear. During October the sow will seek a
den for giving birth and sleeping out the winter storms. Generally
the den is fashioned by carving and packing an entrance passage and
rounded inner chamber in the side of a slope, resulting in the
igloo-shaped sanctuary. Through the top of the chamber the sow
will punch a small hole to allow for ventilation. Dependent on
outside weather conditions she will either enlarge or reduce the size
of the hole to control the den is inside temperature.
General — There are three basic methods of hunting bear: stalking, with bait and with dogs.
Of the three stalking is the least successful. Most encounters with bear are chance
encounters, however a bear that is being pursued will almost always return to the
original site of the chase. A pair of quality binoculars, seven-power or eight-power, is
essential, to allow for a successful approach. Opportunities for a second shot are very rare.
Black Bear — Baiting is the most successful form of black bear hunting. Although they can
be stalked, it requires a highly skillful bowhunter to do so. Their hearing and scent
capabilities are extremely good. While garbage dumps and trash deposits are a good place to
look for black bear, so are berry patches during late Summer. A bowhunter who chooses to
hunt bears by baiting must be prepared to accept and withstand the hazards of such a
system — mosquitos and flies in overwhelming numbers. Look for bear signs. A black bear will
tear stumps apart in its search for beetles and bugs. Streams are another area to concentrate
Grizzly Bear — The best time to hunt grizzly is during the salmon spawning runs. Look for
fresh droppings and partially eaten salmon. Tree stand bowhunting is especially effective
for the grizzly. They can also be hunted from a canoe. Never shoot uphill at a bear. lf hit, it
will invariably run downhill. September is an excellent month to hunt grizzly, as their coats
are at their finest. lf you hear sounds that would indicate a grizzly is near — grunting,
coughing, low woofing — be prepared for attack. Look to a nearby tree.
Kodiak Bear — Either baiting or stalking can prove fruitful, provided you know where to look. Concentrate on beaches and river banks. Springtime is the best time of year to hunt the
Kodiak, when its pelt is in prime condition. A good guide can be your greatest asset.
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