Leonard and I occasionally see black bears (Ursus americanus) while walking in the woods. However, the bears usually see us first and all we observe are dark shapes in retreat, nothing worth photographing. Decent black bear pictures have been a goal.
Earlier this week Leonard and I were in Lassen National Volcanic Park (Shasta County CA) and came upon a black bear. It was fairly close and I immediately went after it with my camera. The bear decided to retreat by climbing a steep, rocky, tree-covered slope. Standing at the bottom of the slope I was able to take a few pictures of the bear as it stopped several times to look at me before wandering off over the crest of the hill. How thrilling!!
The black bear is found in wooded areas everywhere. U. americanus comes in many color phases from black to brown to cinnamon – bears commonly called brown bears and cinnamon bears are simply different color phases of the black bear. Black and cinnamon cubs can occur in a single litter. The black bear is so common and well known that a description is probably unnecessary.
Structurally bears are designed to be carnivores, however, black bears mostly eat vegetation – grasses, roots, nuts and berries. Black bears also eat insects, fish and small rodents, as well as carrion and human garbage. Occasionally they will take a fawn, pig or sheep.
Earlier I posted some bear prints. An interesting fact about bears is that their “big toe” is on the outer side of the foot, as opposed to the inside of the foot, as in humans.
This bear was fat and healthy looking and its cinnamon colored pelage was sleek and shiny. It did not appear gaunt after our long, harsh winter. Black bears are dormant over the winter and do not truly hibernate. They often emerge from their den in the spring in good condition, but lose accumulated fat when they must resort to early grasses for nourishment until more fattening foods become available.
Unfortunately I did not realize my aperture setting was accidentally changed as I quickly followed the black bear, so the pictures are overexposed. Darn! But I did get my bear pictures!