Bears are Excellent Mothers

May 22nd, 2015

Black bear with Cubs by Jeremy Patrick

Black bear with Cubs by Jeremy Patrick

by Monica Perez-Watkins

Bears are excellent mothers.
After mating in the spring, female bears undergo delayed implantation, that is, the hollow ball of cells that will become the embryo doesn’t implant in her uterine wall until late fall, but this will only happen if she has enough weight to sustain the pregnancy. Also, unlike male bears, females actually stop growing once they reach maturity and any extra energy she accumulates will go to enhancing her fertility: larger litters, healthier cubes, enhanced milk production, shorter reproductive cycles … making a more viable bear population. Once the bears are born, she teaches them everything they need to know about being a bear in a specific area, bear culture. That’s why it is so imperative that we humans do not teach bears bad habits, e.g. leaving bird feeders out after winter, apples lingering on the tree in the fall, or raising chickens without an electric fence. There have been too many recent reports of bears getting into bird feeders around Missoula – anything cubs do with mom, they are learning from her and [if they survive and aren’t removed from the population] will carry on into their adulthood and teach their own young. Lets not let that happen.

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