The Black Bear
Probably the most notorious wild animal in the state, the black bear has lived in Northeastern North America for hundreds of years. A black bear can weigh more than 600 lb, and though the powerful male, or boar, can stand 6 feet tall and travel up to 35 mph with ease, it’s actually a shy and private creature.
Contrary to their nomenclature, these large mammals can be cinnamon- or even blonde-colored as well as black. They frequently have a white chest.
Habitat: Ursus Americanus is the only bear of the three species found in the U.S. to inhabit Pennsylvania. Bears are most likely to be found in The Cook Forest where there’s food. You may spot a sow and her cubs in and around lakes, rivers, and river basins looking for a healthy meal of trout. You might also see one climbing a tree to seek out the honey from a beehive. But black bears don’t only eat meat, fish and honey, as many stories might have you believe. Bears are omnivorous, but 75% of their diet is vegetarian. They eat mostly fruit, nuts and berries.
Spotting a Bear
Bears are most frequently on the move during the night or early morning, though you may spot one any time of day. They follow trails, much like humans. Along trails, look for tracks, remains of rotten logs, and large animal droppings. Bear tracks look much like human footprints, but larger, with or without claws.
Note: Bears are naturally afraid of humans, but a wild animal that has been fed will come back for more. It’s important to heed warnings about feeding wild animals not only for your safety, but for the livelihood of The Forest. See the Tips for Trackers article for tips on respecting wildlife.