The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

American Black Bear

American black bear. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

American black bear.
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Scientific Name:  Ursus americanus.

Ursus is Latin for “bear.”  Americanus is Latin for “American.”

Where American Black Bears Live:   

Black bears live in most of North America from Alaska, across Canada to Labrador and Newfoundland, throughout the United States and into central Mexico in multiple habitat types that include water and forested areas.  

From American Black Bear Conservation Action Plan (Chapter 8, Figure 8.1, page 146) - "Historic and present distribution of black bears (Ursus americanus) in North America"

From American Black Bear Conservation Action Plan (Chapter 8, Figure 8.1, page 146) – “Historic and present distribution of black bears (Ursus americanus) in North America”

What American Black Bears Eat:   

Black bears are omnivorous, meaning they will eat plants and animals.  Specifically, black bears will eat roots, tubers, seeds, grains, nuts, fruit, insects and carrion.  Black bears will kill small mammals and other animals for food if the opportunity is available but their primary way of obtaining food is by foraging, not hunting like brown and polar bears do.  

How Long American Black Bears Live:  10-30 years

Why American Black Bears are Awesome:  

Of the eight bear species in existence today, American black bears are probably the best climbers.  Their short claws and inverted back feet allow them to scale a tree quickly and securely.  They are the most common and most adaptable bear in North America, which has allowed them to comeback in great numbers in spite of years of overhunting and habitat destruction.

Why We Care about American Black Bears:   

Since 1992 all American black bears have been listed in Appendix II of CITES, which requires documentation for the import and export of body parts.  This was done to protect their cousin with whom they are frequently confused, the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus).  Both of these bears have been exploited for the international trade in bear parts and bear bile used for Traditional Asian Medicine.

On a personal note, I have provided care to four American black bears in my zookeeping adventures.  They are hugely adaptable, exquisitely comical and highly intelligent.  American black bears are a symbol of Americana, along with bison, wolves, pronghorn and elk.  I look at the American black bear and envy folks like Lewis and Clark, who saw so many wild places before they were developed and destroyed.  When we honor and protect the existence of animals such as the American black bear, we honor history and the importance of sharing the planet with other life.

Enjoy this video of American black bears climbing.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on January 24, 2014 by in Bears, Mammals, Wildlife and tagged , , , .
%d bloggers like this: