How many people know that in 2006 the Alabama State legislation designated the black bear as Alabama's official state mammal. The black bears, one of my all time favorite animals is very intelligent, shy, and secretive animals - actually seeing a bear in the wild is a very rare experience. Black bears are not always black - there are cinnamon, white (known as Spirit bears), beige, and "blue" (slate gray) black bears. Adult black bears vary considerably in size they can stand up to 6 feet tall and are a plantigrade (flatfooted), and weigh from 130 - 500 pounds (occasionally as much as 700). The black bear is classified as carnivores, and are not active predators. These intelligent mammals are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything that is available. Although natural foods, such as berries and acorns, comprise a majority of a bear's diet, bears readily take advantage of food options provided by humans. When available, bears may feed on agricultural crops such as corn, wheat, oats, and sugarcane, occasionally damage beehives in search of honey, and will readily become habituated to human garbage when the opportunity exists.
The black bear ranges from the far north (Alaska and northern Canada) to northern Mexico. Bears tend to range over large areas in search of basic needs such as food, escape cover, den sites, and mates. Males have been known to range over 100 square miles while females occupy much smaller home ranges, often less than 10 square miles. They can run up to 30 mph and are good swimmers. The black Bear is a solitary creature (except females with cubs). A mating pair may stay together for one to several days, then part ways. The cubs are born in the winter during hibernation, and will remain with their mother until their second summer. When they emerge from the winter den the mother teaches the cubs which plants to eat and where to find the grubs and other insects that will supplement their diets.
Black bears are very intelligent, shy and secretive animals, and generally work hard at avoiding contact with humans. Dangerous situations may occur whenever close human activity is perceived as a danger to cubs or otherwise threatening. The best advice is for humans to avoid close contact with bears. The males are called boars and the females are sows, babies are cubs. The black bear has an extremely high sense of smell (and can smell up to 3-5 miles), but has poor vision. For all you seeking information on the law on Alabama mammal here is the Alabama law information on this subject.
Alabama Law; TITLE 1.
Chapter 2 STATE SYMBOLS AND HONORS.
Section 1-2-36 State mammal.
The Black Bear, subfamily ursine, Ursus americanus Pollas, 1780, is hereby designated as the official state mammal of Alabama: (Act 2006-245, §1.)
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