TIL: Black bear myths that may surprise you

Picture of a black bear
A black bear (Ursus americanus) walks through a meadow.
Photo by Jillian Cooper / Getty Images

Black bears can be found across Canada, play essential roles in their ecosystems, and coexisting with them can be a rewarding experience. But there’s a lot of misinformation about black bears circulating online. The Fur-Bearers are taking these myths on – and hoping you’ll help us share them across the internet!

1 MYTH: Black bears hibernate all winter. Black bears hibernate, but in a lighter stage of sleep called “torpor.” This stage is involuntary and lasts for a few hours a day, allowing bears to conserve energy and minimize exposure to winter elements. But they can wake up and explore around their dens, particularly if weather conditions are good or food sources available.

2 MYTH: Black bears are different from brown bears. Black bears have a variety of coat colours, ranging from black, to brown, cinnamon and white (Spirit/Kermode bears, which is a subspecies of black bear). Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis), who are sometimes referred to as brown bears, are a separate species from black bears, and also have a variety of coat colours.

3 MYTH: Black bears only live in remote, forested areas. While forests are great black bear habitat, they are highly adaptable animals. As humans continue to modify the landscape (development, habitat fragmentation), black bears learn to succeed in other areas, including near urban centres.

4 MYTH: Black bears are aggressive and will attack humans. Like many wild species, black bears have no desire to be near people, and make active attempts to avoid humans. If a black bear is encountered, give them space, speak in a firm, loud voice (do not scream), and slowly back away. Running from a black bear (and many other species, including domestic dogs) can cause them to chase out of instinct. Bluff charges and jaw clapping also may seem like aggressive behaviours, but they’re meant as warnings – communication that says, “Go away!”

5 MYTH: Black bears are nocturnal and not active during the day. Black bears are in fact diurnal, meaning they’re most active during the day. However, like any animal, black bears will adapt to when they feel safe, food sources are accessible, and conditions allow for movement and foraging.

Did you learn something new about black bears today? Let us know by commenting on our posts on Facebook, X/Twitter, or Instagram! Have another fun fact that we should include in a future post? Let us know the same way, or by emailing us at info@TheFurBearers.com.

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