Black bears are supposed to hibernate in the winter.  In fact, West Virginia moved their rifle season to a later date because female bears usually den first.  The later season succeeded in taking more male bears which had less impact on population levels.  Neighboring Maryland has a modest population, but not the brutal winters that bears experience in the remote mountains of West Virginia or Pennsylvania.  Biologist in Maryland believe that some bears don’t hibernate in dens, but will lay in a pile of leaves or crawl into a downed tree for the winter nap.  It’s also believed that some bears hibernate like squirrels, sleeping for days or weeks, but awakening when the weather turns warm.

Be Bear Careful

The point of these anecdotal situations in the East is that black bears can be a problem regardless of where you live.  Populations have spread and increased over the past two decades to the point that seeing them is common in areas where bears were never seen before.  This is especially true in summer when mama bear weans her two-year-old offspring and forces them to live on their own.  These bears are chased from any area where bears have established territories and therefore, roam extensively to find a new home.

Bear Safety

As you will read in this encounter, this female black bear should have been hibernating and should not have attacked humans… but it did.  Always keep bear encounters in mind and read this account to learn from the experience:

Hours after a bear knocked him to the ground Tuesday in Lake County, Daniel Boedeker was still trying to piece together his memories of the attack. It all happened in a blur, he said — leaving him with six punctures and tears in his right arm where the bear grabbed him.

“It was kind of an ordeal. I got my arm ripped up pretty good,” said the Winton man, a contractor who had been building a garage at the time of the attack.