Posts Tagged ‘American black bear’

Just a raccoon out frogging:

raccoon out frogging

raccoon out frogging ii

And this little creature:

black bear

black bear II

wv black bear

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giant west virginia bear

Yes. There are bears that big in West Virginia, and this isn’t very far from Parkersburg and the Ohio River.

These bears are almost always eaten.

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This bear does some amazing acrobatics in the trees. (Yes, they shoot him in the end. In West Virginia, bears are eaten.)


When I was a kid, there were 500 bears in the whole state. Most of them were in the High Alleghenies or in southern West Virginia.

There now are an estimated 10,000 black bears, and they are found in every county.

Hunting hasn’t hurt their numbers in the least, and we have almost no conflict between humans and bears.

They have a healthy fear of people.

They get that fear because they are hunted, and the hounds that run the bears are run on bears fairly often. There is a bear hound training season in which the dogs learn to tree the bears, but the bears are left to go on their own.

That’s when bears learn their health fear of dogs and humans.

They are hazed in the same way British Columbia’s wildlife department uses Karelian bear dogs to haze problem bears.

It’s just with West Virginia, the hazing is outsourced.  And the hazers pay to do it.


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American black bears may have cognitive skills on par with those of non-human primates.

The BBC reports:

Three captive bears took a series of number-based tests on a touch-screen computer, research published in the journal Animal Behaviour showed.

They had to choose between two different-sized sets of dots and were rewarded with food for correct answers.

“People don’t generally understand them to be as intelligent as they probably are,” said Jennifer Vonk, the researcher who led the study.

Although bears have the largest relative brain size of any carnivore, their cognition is not well understood.

Dr Vonk, an assistant professor in psychology at Oakland University said that the North American black bears were first trained to understand the process and equipment involved in the tests.

“This is the first published work with bears working on a touch screen,” she said. “It hasn’t been done with any large carnivores.”

The experiment then involved presenting the bears with two sets of dots or “arrays”.

“Basically we were looking to see if they can understand to choose less or choose more,” she said.

They touched the screen to select one or other of the arrays, and were given food if they got the answer right.

One bear was rewarded for touching the screen with a greater number dots, and for the other two bears, a correct answer was an array with a fewer number of dots.

The team wanted to ensure that the animals were not merely estimating magnitude, a skill that has been shown by many animals.

“We’re really trying to differentiate between the ability to perceptually discriminate amount from actually quantifying a number of items,” explained Dr Vonk.

So the team varied the pattern of the dots and the shaded area on which the arrays were shown, and in some tests the dots were also moving.

“If there’s more dots and less area covered – it’s a better indication that they actually do something analogous to counting rather than just estimating the amount of something,” Dr Vonk said.

Although the study found that bears did better when the size of the area corresponded to the number of dots, they also found that the bears were capable of compensating for an area that was smaller or larger than normal for the number of dots it contained.

“What was important is that we showed that they could work against that in some of the tests,” Dr Vonk said.

Black bears in the wild are often solitary, non-social animals, so the results suggested that animals that do not live in a group may have the ability to make number-based judgements.

“This is really the first test of a species that has not evolved to live socially to see if they can individuate items,” she said.

“I think we can’t really say that they’re absolutely counting at this point but it does look like they’re attending to the number of items and not just the area.”

Similar tests on primate species allowed the scientists to compare the ability of the black bears with non-human primates.

For at least one of the bears, they found a pattern that matched.

These results are among the first to show that bears may have cognitive abilities that are equal to primates.

“I’ve been working for a while with these bears… but simultaneously I was working with a chimpanzee,” said Dr Vonk.

“I find that their abilities so far in terms of categorisation and forming more abstract concepts seem quite comparable.”

The techniques used to research the bears’ skills could be used in the future to look at bear cognition in more depth.

“It really opens up the door to asking all kinds of comparative and cognitive questions with a species that really hasn’t been investigated in that way before,” she said.

With the exception of hyenas, all the brains in carnivorans seems to be concentrated in Caniformia.

Now, black bears probably aren’t able to cooperate in the same way that wolves and social canids are.

My guess is that no bear has the abilities of certain voice-responsive domestic dogs.

But bears clearly are intelligent.

One needs to be a little cautious of brain size claims as a justification for intelligence. Even if we base the brain size on a relative basis, there are certain shrews and rodents that have bigger brains in proportion to their body size than people do.

But even with keeping that issue in mind, bears have to have a lot of intelligence to survive.

They are the largest terrestrial omnivores, and they have to know when certain foods are available.  Perhaps their counting abilities are the result of them needing to know when these foods are in season.

These animals have very long childhoods. Black bears stay with their mothers until their second year, often leaving when they are about 18 months old, and brown and polar bears stay with their mothers until they are two or three.

These longer childhoods mean that they have a lot of time to learn things.

So we really should not be surprised that bears have intelligence.

They are in the particular part of the order Carnivora that has lots of intelligent animals in it.

Their intelligence may have been underestimated because bears are not truly social.

Sociality does not always mean intelligence. After all, there are plenty of fish that travel together in school that are quite limited in intelligence, and octopuses are solitary but possess an intelligence on par with domestic cats.

Further, orangutans are largely solitary, but they may be more intelligent than chimps and gorillas.

Humans are a social species, and we are very intelligent.

However, I think that we assume that sociality equals intelligence because sociality is a major part of how and why we are so intelligent.

This assumption causes us to miss animals that have evolve remarkable cognitive abilities even though they aren’t as social.

That’s unfortunately what has happened with bears.

Virtually ever expert who has dealt with bears in the field knows they are very smart, but it’s only now that cognitive scientists have tried to look at bear intelligence empirically.

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From the CBC:

Autopsy results have confirmed that a bear attack killed a well-known elder in the Xaxli’p First Nation whose remains were found last week near Lillooet, B.C.

After Bernice Evelyn Adolph had been reported missing, police dogs found her remains on Thursday near her remote property about 175 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

There was evidence that Adolph, 72, had been partially consumed by bears, but before the autopsy, police were not sure how she died.

“After reviewing the autopsy results, evidence from the scene, and expertise and information provided by conservation officers, the B.C. Coroners Service was able to confirm a bear attack as the cause of her death,” spokesman Mark Coleman said in a release on Tuesday.

Coleman said no decision about an inquest had been made.

Conservation officers killed four bears Sunday that matched the description of the animal that had fed on the woman.

Samples from the bears were sent to Edmonton for DNA testing to determine which bears were involved in the attack.

Adolph had complained to conservation authorities about bears on her property.

Investigators found evidence that bears had tried to enter her house.

While contact between black bears and humans is common, even in Metro Vancouver, the animals tend to fear humans and fatal attacks are rare.

Two people have died in black bear attacks in B.C. since 2000.

American black bears are generally not dangerous. Normally, if you see one, it is its black behind charging into the undergrowth or up a tree.

I wonder if these bears had been fed and learned to enter homes .  That is normally what causes a black bear to lose its fear of man and possibly attack.

In some part of Canada and the US, bears are baited in to be shot. This is illegal in British Columbia, so it is unlikely that the bear learned to associate people with food from hunters.

However, there are bears, mostly large males, that develop really solid predation skills. They eat a lot of moose calves during the spring, and it is not a large leap from taking moose calves to attacking people.

Where I live, the bears generally avoid people at all costs. Everyone is armed to the teeth. There is a regulated bear season. And the bears know in no uncertain terms that people = death.

I’m sure that people living in the wilds of BC are similar, but it may be the moose calf factor that makes a difference.

We don’t have moose here, so there are no calves for the bears to bother. If the bears get any meat at all, it’s almost always a sheep or a hog– one reason why there aren’t too many sheep farms in West Virginia.

It does seem a bit odd that they would kill four bears to find the real killer, but that might be the only way to be certain that they got him. My guess is it is a him and not a her. If a black bear attacks a person, it is almost always predation from a male bear. It is almost never a female defending her cubs.

Bears don’t hunt in packs, regardless of what you might read in some bad pulp outdoor fiction, so she had only one killer.

However, bears do fight over carcasses, so several bears might have eaten on her.

It’s quite a tragedy that these things happen, but one must keep it in perspective. You are far more likely to be killed by a moose or a white-tailed deer in North America than by a black bear. In my state, I don’t think a single person has been killed by a black bear, and the only attacks have been when someone has done something stupid like trying to pet a wild bear.


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If you look closely, you’ll notice that these black bears are not American black bears. They are Asiatic black bears that have had their manes trimmed back.

Of they are hybrids between Asiatic and American black bears.

Asiatic black bears were more commonly used in circuses and Hollywood because they were more docile and easy to train.

Of course the narrative is a bit off.  American black bear sows with cubs are among the least dangerous of bears. A female black bear may defend her cubs, but all she will likely do is take a nip or a swat. It’s the male bears that actually prey upon people that should be of greater concern. Nearly all fatal attacks from American black bears involve predatory behavior from males, as this recent study confirmed.

Yeller likely didn’t save Arliss’s life, but he did save him from a nasty bite or scratch.





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Mangy black bears aren’t that common, but those that get it do look particularly strange.

Oh yeah, and they get confused with sasquatch.

Remember Westfall’s rule of cryptozoological confusion:

As a soon as a normally furred animal loses its hair for any reason, it will be confused and proclaimed to be some new species or possibly some proposed cryptid.

Usually, some kind of wild or domestic dog with mange or even normal inherited hairlessness gets called a chupacabra. But this same name gets added to raccoons and even honey badgers.

And then there are various Montauk monsters, which have all turned out to be raccoons.


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The first black bear killed was in Pike County, which borders on West Virginia.

West Virginia had a record bear season this year. West Virginia has had bear season for many, many years. Every county has bears, but not every county has a season.

Kentucky has had bear season for only two years, but the one last year opened at the beginning of a major snowstorm, which meant it was hard to get out in the wood an the bear were likely going to their dens for hibernation.


The world record black bear was supposedly killed in Grant County, West Virginia, but it was actually killed in North-Central Pennsylvania– when bear season was closed in Pennsylvania.

The hunters got a West Virginia tag and checked it in at a Grant County station.

When the hide was sent to the taxidermist, an investigation began.

It ended with all three hunters being fined $800 in Pennsylvania.

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I have no idea what the mother moose is going to do, and I wish they had continued filming.

But then, it may have been too dangerous to be in an area where a bear wants to protect its food and a cow moose wants to protect her offspring.

It is more likely the latter, for cow moose are quite vicious in protecting their calves and have killed many more people and dogs than bears have.

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Why did they choose to use cardboard stand-ins?


Interesting, we have bears where I live, enough to actually have a bear seasons, and just a few days ago, one was just spotted less than a mile from my home. This bear was wearing radio collar.

But as far as I know, there are no cardboard bears to be seen.

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