TRR photos by Scott Rando

This female with her two cubs was seen about two to three weeks after they emerged from their den. These cubs will grow rapidly; in a year, they may be close to 100 pounds. The female is also wearing a radio collar. The PA Game Commission uses the collars to keep track of the number and health of cubs produced each year from selected dens.

Bears on the wild side

Bears on the wild side

Summer is here, and with the warm weather, picnics and swimming in the lake come encounters with wildlife. Most of these encounters are an opportunity for people to see an animal, perhaps for the first time, and learn about the species and its habits. With more people in the area during the summer months, these encounters are more frequent. One notable encounter that is likely to occur at some point is an encounter with a black bear.

Most people see black bears in populated areas because the bears have learned that human activity is a potential food source. Bears visit food sources such as garbage cans and unsecured dumpsters. Usually, such visits result in trash strewn all about the area and a mess to clean up. Wildlife agencies are busy fielding calls concerning “nuisance” bears during this time of year. Most of the problems can be prevented by making it harder for the bears to get into the trash. Reinforced dumpsters are available from many trash collection companies, and it’s good to put cans out only on the day of collection.

What most people don’t realize is that for the most part, bears live away from people and they do just fine. During the summer, they feast on blueberries and other plants they can find. You may come across a log flipped over or a big rock turned along a trail. It was probably turned over by a bear looking for grubs. You may find a small pool with some well-worn trails leading to it; this would be a bear wallow, a kind of bathing pool for bears where they can cool off and have a bit of a bath. There is no mistaking a trail that is largely used by bears; also, look for claw marks shoulder height or higher in trees.

Most of the region enjoys good bear habitat, and it is good to see bears in their natural surroundings. If you give them a little room and don’t  feed them, all should be well. Be mindful of females with their cubs, as the females are very protective of their young.

Speaking of cubs, here is the emergence of the female and her four cubs in April from the PA Game Commission:


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