Endangered Species: Black Bear

A Christiansburg Elementary Project
Submitted by Anthony of Christiansburg Elementary School
Christiansburg, Virginia, U.S.A.

black bear
Black Bear
Courtesy of World Wildlife Fund - Canada
Photographer Unknown
bear art
Original artwork by Anthony
This original report may be found
on the Radical Report Resources
pages completed by the Web Weavers
of Christiansburg Elementary School.
Why Study This Topic? What Was Already Known Search for Information Description of Plant or Animal Habitat Requirements
Adaptations Reasons for Endangerment Restoration Actions What Was Learned Conclusions from Research

Why Study This Topic?

  The animal I chose to write about is the black bear. I wanted to find out four things: what it eats, drinks, weighs, and its lifestyle. I wanted to do this report because I think black bears are interesting, and they live in Montgomery County, Virginia.

What Was Already Known

  Before I did this research, I did not know much about this animal--except that it lives in this county.

  It is endangered because it is being over hunted and is losing its habitat.

Search for Information

  First, I looked in the classroom and did not find much information, so I went to the library and found a magazine called Ranger Rick. I also found a book called The Wonders of Black Bears. I learned a lot by reading the article in the magazine and reading the book. I also found some information from the Encyclopedia Britannica. I looked on the Internet and found a mini-report about the black bear.

  I did not have any trouble finding or reading the information.

Description of Plant or Animal

  The black bear is about five feet long and weighs around 375 pounds. If a black bear were to sit on a teeter-totter, it would take two men that weighed about 200 pounds each to make the teeter-totter even.

  The black bear looks like a wolverine, except it is bigger.

  Even though the black bear is called black, it can be other colors as well. If it lives in California, then it is mainly white, like a polar bear. In other places, it might be black, brown, blonde, bluish-brown, and cinnamon. In most places, the black bear is just black.

Habitat Requirements

  Black bears eat grass, berries, nuts, and other plants. If food is scarce, they will eat small animals and fish. They eat a lot during the fall, so that they will have enough fat to live on during hibernation (all winter). If they have not eaten enough food to last through hibernation, then they will not start to hibernate until they do eat enough.

  They drink from nearby ponds and streams that are not polluted.

  The black bears live in abandoned caves called dens. They have to have enough room to live and take care of their babies.


  The black bear only has one predator--man. Man kills in two ways. The first way is hunting season. Hunters kill bears during hunting season to get their furs to sell. The other way man hurts the bear is "loss of habitat."

  Black bears like to climb trees and usually do if they are being chased or hunted.

Reasons for Endangerment

  People cut down their forests, and since bears are not social animals, they run away and do not have a place to stay. This is why they are an endangered species.

  The only way black bears become socialized is if they become captives. Then they become tame and most of the time a nuisance. When they are tamed, they are used to being around humans. When these tame bears are released, they want to stay with humans--not live in the wild.

Restoration Actions

  Now, to help the black bear, people are holding fund-raisers and telling people not to cut down the forests. This will not just save the black bear, but will help save the environment and other animals. Members of the Department of Game and Inland Fish are also helping by doing speeches about the black bear. In 1974, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries made a law restricting the hunting season for the black bears, because so many people were killing the bears for their skins and heads. This way, not as many black bears were killed, and by 1981 the black bears' population had risen. But they were still on the endangered species list.

  To help the black bears' population in the future, we could build bear sanctuaries. We could make sure that every state had a few black bears. Then bears could choose where they wanted to live. That way, researchers could learn which habitats are safe for bears and other animals. People also should stop cutting down the forests so the black bears will have a place to live and food to eat. People need to stop polluting the water, so that bears will have clean water to drink.

What Was Learned

  Black bears have cubs mainly in January and February, right after hibernation. Twins are the most common. The cubs might have different color fur, but they are still twins. Even though the mother weighs about 300 pounds, she has healthy cubs that weigh less than one pound (\253 - 3/4 pound). For the first few months of the cubs' lives, they are blind. In March, they open their eyes and are ready to follow their mother. When they first come out of their den, they weigh 4-8 pounds. The mother teaches the cubs how to catch food, climb trees, and how to go in and out of the den. The cubs stay with their mother through the first winter and by the second winter they are ready to be on their own. How well the mother teaches her cubs makes the difference between whether they will live or die. When a bear is four to five years old, it will start to mate. This happens mainly in May and June. The mother's embryos do not begin to develop until winter. If the mother does not eat enough food, the embryos will not develop.

  A black bear starts hibernating in mid to late November. They stop hibernating in January and February. To hibernate, the bears usually sleep in its den, under a tree in a hole, and if it can't find anywhere else to hibernate, it will lay on the ground. The reason a bear hibernates is because it can not find enough food to live through the winter, so its body systems shut down. If the winter is hot, a bear might wake up for a little while, but will not eat because during that time they are used to living on what they ate during autumn.

  If you are ever in a situation where you come face-to face with a bear, do not try to make it think you are threatening it or trying to hurt it. If you get attacked, the best thing to do is lie down on the ground and pretend that you are dead. You should never try to capture a black bear unless you are trained and have on protective gear, because a bear has very sharp teeth and claws and will tear you to shreds.

  Some interesting facts about the black bear are that every year they go into a deep sleep called hibernation so they will survive the winter. When the food that they usually eat is not available, the bear will eat anything that they can catch. They will eat insects, rats, mice, caterpillars and, even yellow jackets! Black bears are not big meat eaters. The largest recorded black bear weighed over 800 pounds. Even though black bears weigh a lot, they could still beat most humans in a 50-yard dash. So, never try to outrun a black bear.

Conclusions From Research

  I enjoyed doing this report, because it made me learn more about an interesting animal that lives in my county.

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© copyright 1997 Christiansburg Elementary
Last updated on March 6, 1998