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BLACK BEARS
(Ursus Americanus "Bear of America")

Click on images to inlarge.

Current population: Approximately 750,000

This is Patch my favorite bear at the Vince Shute Wildlife sanctuary

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Physical Information

Adult Male
Approximate Length: 1.8 - 2.4 m (6 - 8 ft.)
Approximate Height at Shoulder: .8 - 1.1 m (2.5 - 3.5 ft)
Average Weight: 227 kg (500 lbs.)
Approximate Life Span in Wild: 15 years

Adult Female
Approximate Length: 1.4 - 2.1 m (4.5 - 7 ft.)
Approximate Height at Shoulder: .8 - 1 m (2.5 - 3 ft)
Average Weight: 136 kg (300 lbs.)
Approximate Life Span in Wild: 15 years
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blackbear3s.jpg Black Bears currently live south of the sub Arctic regions of the globe to almost the equator. Black Bears are about half the size of the brown bear and reach an average weight of 182 kg (400 lbs.) and the largest recorded weight of 364 kg (800 lbs.). Black Bears live primarily in forested areas and are very adapt at climbing trees. A Black Bear uses it's front paws to wrap around the tree and then use's the hind paw's claws to dig into the tree, they basically walk up the tree. Black Bears are solitary animals except for a mother with cubs. Cubs stay with their mothers for about 1.5 years and in that time they will learn how to hunt and survive on their own. After which the mother will chase off the cubs when she is ready to breed again in May or June. Male Black Bears have little to with the cubs other than impregnating the female and will often kill the cubs to bring the female back into estrus. Female Black Bears though will fiercely protect the cubs even if it means her own life.

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About 40% of Black Bear cubs never reach maturity but once mature, Black Bears have to worry about perdition from brown bears, cougars, wolves, humans and larger bears. Current Black Bear population is estimated at 750,000 and is doing well considering the encroachment from human civilization. The Black Bear though has proven to be very adaptable and seems to cope with human intrusion quite well. Black Bears are tough and cope with their environments very well. They spend about half their lives hibernating and the other half gorging themselves for the winter hibernation. A Black Bears fur is thick (approximately 102 mm (4 in)) and varies in color from black to pure white but is primarily black. The Black Bears fur is comprised of 2 layers, the first layer is a coarse outer layer the second is a silky under layer that is water repellent and helps to keep the Black Bear dry.

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blackbear7s.jpg A Black Bears eyesight and hearing is about the same as human's but their olfactory system is about a hundred times more sensitive that a human's. Their sense of smell is so acute that they can locate their prey from kilometers (miles) away. They use their sense of smell to locate food and mates during the breeding season. Black Bears are classified as carnivores and do hunt other animals but for the most part their diet is comprised of plants like fruits, berries and nuts. Coastal Black Bears enjoy the benefits of the annual salmon run which provides them with a rich food source. A Black Bear is very skillful at catching salmon but unlike the brown bear they prefer to stay on the shore out of the swift current, this is probably due to their smaller size.

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Black Bears a highly intelligent and they have an excellent memory. Black Bears are very curious creatures who like to explore their surroundings looking for food and sometimes toys to play with. Black Bears are capable of solving complex problems and will retain the information that they gain from it and continue to learn and adapt through out their entire life. Most of the pictures on this web page were taking at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary and in various parts of the US and Canada where Black Bears populations are still doing well. Fortunately people are becoming more aware of the wildlife around them and more are considering the sight of a wild bear a good thing instead of a nuisance.

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byronbear1s Byron Bear
Byron Bear is a professional bear actor dedicated to protecting and preserving bears, 75% of his fee is donated to bear charities to help protect the bears. Visit his website it's worth the visit and you will be impressed by his suit and his work.
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American Bear Association
and the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary

Most of the pictures you see on this page were taken at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary was a special place where a person can see the elusive wild Black Bear up close. The Sanctuary was founded by Vince Shute who back in the late 40's use to do logging in the area and would have problems with Black Bears coming into the camp area looking for food. Back then Vince use to shoot the Black Bears because the man working there were worried about being attacked by the Black Bears. But as time went on Vince Shute decided that there had to be a better way to handle the Black Bears, so after 10 years of killing the Black Bears Vince Shute decided that if he put food away from the camp the Black Bears would eat that food and leave the camp alone and it worked. Now decades later the Black Bears are still being fed. Vince Shute spent most of his life and all his money to feed the Black Bears up until 1995 when Bill and Klari Lea and Karen Hausermann founded the American Bear Associationtook over the task because Vince Shute was getting too old to do it himself. Vince Shute died July 2000. Klari did a wonderful job of carrying on in Vince's shoes and did a great job of using the sanctuary to educate people about the black bears.

Unfortunately Klari has retired and there is a new chapter in the story of the sanctuary now, this chapter is not a good one either. There is a new president and a new director of the sanctuary, the new director is Scott Stowell and he has shown that he doesn't have the bears best interest in mind. He has decided to start charging admission to the sanctuary so that he can pay himself a salary, unlike the previous director who did the job for free. The food cost has been raised to over $30,000 for the short 3-4 month season, that is a huge amount of food considering that the feeding is not suppose to sustain the bears. Vince never came close to that kind of volume when he was feeding the bears and no one should, that amount of food could feed small countries. The feel of the sanctuary now is that of a Disney theme park, with the focus on large crowds of people instead of the personal feel of years past. Scott has also caused problems with photographers and volunteers such as myself. Apparently Scott doesn't like photographers and the money they bring to the sanctuary, I drove almost 1600 miles to be there for him to tell me that he doesn't want me there the first morning I was there. This was the only conversation we had and it was like taking to a 10 year old child on a power trip, I asked why he wanted me to leave and his response was "if you don't know then I'm not telling you". Scott never told me if I broke any rules or even what the new rules were, he simply verbally attacked me until I left. I talked with other volunteers that I knew from the past and comments were made about Scotts dislike of photographers so I am assuming that has something to do with his attitude towards me. I wish to warn anyone that might be visiting the Vince Shute sanctuary in the near future that they might experience the same problems so be aware of this.



Now before you go thinking it's a good idea to feed the Bears, remember this. Black Bears are very intelligent animals and once they learn where to find food they will continue to return to the same spot all the time and will expect to get fed. So unless you plan on feeding the Bear for the next 30 years I would not suggest starting to feed them. Another problem with feeding the Bears is that they will think that all people will give them food, but not everyone likes Bears and a lot of people would rather shoot the Bear than give them food. So what happens is that most fed Bears end up dead because they don't understand that all people are not so nice. PLEASE DON'T FEED THE BEARS.

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