Mothers Raise Cubs

Preparations for Birth

Getting fat is the most important preparation for birth.After mating in late May or June, pregnant females focus on eating for the rest of the summer. Females that don’t become…

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Care of Newborn Cubs

Newborn cubs are smaller, relative to their mother’s size, than the young of any other placental mammal.  They are totally dependent on their mothers.  Newborn cubs have little fur, weigh…

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The Cubs Develop

By the end of February, cubs are 4 to 6 weeks old and usually weigh 2-3 pounds.  They have dense fur almost an inch long.  They can thermo-regulate to some…

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Dealing with Water in the Den

Water in dens is a problem, especially for mothers with cubs.  Newborn cubs that are too young to walk in January, February, or early March can be killed from exposure…

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The Family Emerges

Bears around Ely typically leave their dens in early to mid April.  In years with sparse snow, some bears leave as early as March 24.  Mothers with unusually small cubs…

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The Refuge Tree

When a mother black bear leads her cubs away from a den, her usual destination is a big tree where the cubs can take refuge from danger.  Around Ely, that…

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Cub Vocalizations – Mother Responses

Because bears are intelligent animals, much of their behavior is based on learning rather than instinct, so responses may vary. Vocalization Situation Mother’s Response Pulsating hum Nursing (or, rarely, when…

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Travel Widens

Early May  Only patches of snow remain.  Greenup begins.  Cubs’ legs are long enough to follow mother.  Mother leads them to feeding areas where she takes advantage of nutrient-rich spring…

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Why Do Bears Play?

Few animals play more than bear cubs do, but why they play remains a mystery.   Scientists have suggested that young animals might play to: stimulate development of the brain increase…

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Family Breakup

Black bear mothers give birth in January and stay with their cubs for 16-17 months. Family bonds remain strong right up to the day of family breakup. In the days…

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