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Rich Mountain Bear Biology.mp4

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Published on Oct 2, 2010

Summer is mating season for bears. A male, also known as a boar, will seek out a sow without cubs. After mating, the two will separate and perhaps never interact again. Strangely, the newly formed embryo will not attach to the sow's uterus after conception. Instead, sows experience what is known as delayed implantation. The embryo becomes dormant until late fall. If the sow is able to find enough food to put on a healthy fat layer for the winter, then one, two, or up to 6 embryos will affix themselves to the placenta and begin to grow. The sow will give birth to her cubs during her winter sleep. The cubs are so small when born that the sow may not even wake up during birth.
At birth, in January or February, a cub may weigh but half a pound. It will find its way to the mother's nipple, and begin suckling. Bear milk is up to 30% fat. Compare that to a cow's milk that is only 3% fat. Feeding on this rich milk, the cub will gain 5 to 10 pounds in the next few months. In April or May, the sow will emerge from her den with her new cubs.
Bears prefer to den high in trees where large cavities are available. The average height of a den in the Smokies is 80 feet. The first experience a cub has in the outside world can be descending an 80 foot tree. Bears are great climbers. But bears can also den on the ground. These dens are often in thickets of briers, which offer some protection from other animals.
Mother and cubs will forage together for a year and a half. They are inseparable during this time. But eventually, the desire to mate again will come to the sow. She must get rid of her yearlings. The sow has taught her yearlings to climb trees whenever danger threatens. She will bark or huff at them and up the nearest tree they will go. She might run off to draw the danger away, so the yearlings have learned to wait in the tree until she returns. The sow uses this training to rid herself of her offspring. She will send them up a tree and then leave, never to return.
After hours or maybe even a day, the yearlings will realize they have been abandoned, climb down from the tree, and begin a life on their own. Most yearlings will not survive the next year. Those that do survive will mature at age 3 and could live into their teens or early twenties. The oldest known bear in the Smokies was a sow that lived 26 years.

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