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Black Bears

The black bear is the official state animal of West Virginia and it has been seen upon occasion in the Laurel Lake area. Bears are omnivores.

Black bears grow to a length of approximately 6 feet and to a weight of about 400 pounds. Males, often called boars, are larger and heavier than females which are often referred to as sows.

The black bear is an opportunistic feeder. These bears consume a great deal of vegetation. Bears find food by using their keen sense of smell. Such foods as berries, acorns, beech nuts, leaves, insects, amphibians, fish, reptiles, and small mammals make up the black bear's diet.

Most bears will run from humans. If a person has food, however, the bear has been known to chase the person. A mother bear will attack people if she feels she or her cubs are in danger.

Bears walk "flat-footed." Each foot of the bear has 5 toes and each toe has a claw.

West Virginia black bears are black, but in other parts of the country black bears will appear whitish, brown, or bluish gray.

Bears are mostly nocturnal, but have been known to feed during the day. Bears drink water frequently and in hot weather will swim often in streams.

Bears mate in June and July. Female bears give birth to cubs 7 to 7.5 months later between December and February in their den. Litters range from 1 to 5 offspring with 3 being the average for bear litters in West Virginia. Males will occasionally kill and eat the cubs.

Cubs nurse in the dens. Their eyes open after about 4 weeks and begin walking in about 2 months. Cubs are weanedafter about 7 months. A female bear usually raises only 1 litter every 2 years.

Bears hibernateduring the winter. They make dens in caves, hollow trees, fallen trees, or practically anywhere. Cubs usually den with their mothers during their first winter.