Maskwa- Bear -Ursus Americanus
Ourse - Ours
BEAR - specifically… Black Bear!
Ursus Americanus (Scientific name)
Maskwa (Indigenous name - Cree)
Ourse (French - feminine) Ours (French - masculine)
There are many different types of Bears: Brown Bear, Black Bear, Sun Bear, Kodiak Bear, Polar Bear… can you think of any others?
Black Bears’ average lifespan in the wild is 18 years, though they can live to be up to 23 years old! They actually have better eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell than humans… would you have guessed that?
At the shoulder, Bears are 2.5 - 5 feet tall. If they stand on their hind legs, though, a Bear can be up to 9 feet tall! Male Black Bears can weigh between 120 - 1100 pounds, and females weigh between 90 - 500 pounds. Black Bears are the smallest bear species in North America. They’re still pretty big, though!
Black Bear’s skulls are broad, with narrow muzzles and large jaw hinges. Their claws are sharp and pointy and can be as long as a whiteboard eraser! Yikes! They are also very dexterous, which means they can open screw-top jars and manipulate door latches. They are also incredibly strong! They can flip over rocks that are more than double their weight!
Bears typically live in forests and mountains, and are excellent tree climbers and swimmers! Sometimes they even take naps in trees! That doesn’t sound comfortable, does it? Bears will eat plants and berries and salmon, but they are not herbivores. They are omnivores, and they prey on Moose, Deer, and a variety of insects. They are not very picky eaters because they need to eat as much as possible before going into hibernation (their deep Winter sleep).
During the Fall months, Bears eat as much as they can all the time, up to 90 pounds of food a day! They have to store up enough body fat to get them through the 4-7 months of Winter as well as their newborn cubs who will feed on the Momma Bear’s milk. Could you imagine not eating all Winter?
But how do they make it through the entire Winter without eating, you ask? Their body temperature and heart rates lower, and their breathing slows down. They use as little energy as possible so they don’t have to go out into the bitter cold to hunt for food. Wouldn’t you want to avoid those cold temperatures, too?
Baby Bears, or cubs, stay with their mother’s for 1-3 years. The Momma Bear teaches her cubs how to live in the wild, until they are ready to go off and survive alone and start their own family. Mommas are very protective of their cubs, though, so you should stay away if you see them in the wild.
Where can you find them? Black Bears occupy the majority of North America’s forested regions. In Canada, the Black Bear population is between 396,000 and 476,000. However, you will rarely see them in Alberta’s southern farmlands, Saskatchewan,and Manitoba. That’s a lot of Bears, though!
Have you ever seen a Bear in the wild?