Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Maine Gazetteer: Black bear

There are still more than 20,000 black bears in Maine, but you say the words “black bear” here and everyone thinks of the University of Maine athletic teams. That’s probably because, in contrast to many of Maine’s other mammals, bears are seldom seen. They seem to be the slow cousins of their more famous family members, the grizzly and the polar. They don’t pose provocatively on ice floes. They don’t pluck salmon out of mid-air. They’re a contradiction, and misunderstood. Are they ferocious or cuddly? Secretive or gregarious? They do have their strange points: animals with big teeth that mostly eat plants and berries; animals that hibernate for four or five months, during which they do not eat or drink or even eliminate waste; cubs that are born during hibernation and that feed entirely on milk from a mother’s already depleted body; mothers that don’t have a strong instinct to protect their cubs; females that stay close to home, males that range widely (as much as 100 square miles).

Excerpted from Saving Maine: A Personal Gazetteer
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