By Lydia Rogers, SVT Member and Local Naturalist
Have you heard the reports about black bears in Lincoln, Acton, Sudbury, Concord and other towns? Not only are the stories true, but also remote photography has captured images of our bruin visitors. A little background in bear biology will explain why black bears are making the news. Bears mate in spring and early summer; young (weighing about half a pound) are born in January. The cubs (usually 1 to 4 per litter) grow rapidly on mother bear’s incredibly rich milk and are ready to greet their world in spring. Then at the age of 16 (months, not years, that is) males get the message that it is time to explore the unknown and find their own space (Momma bear is usually more tolerant of her daughters, who usually settle down close by.) Before berries, nuts, or other foods are ready to eat, bears will feed on newly emergent grasses, sedges, leaves, immature insects and whatever else they can find. Sometimes what they find is the problem. Black bears don’t need a GPS to find and remember food sources. If a bear scores an easily procured meal from a bird feeder, dog dish, or crusty barbecue, he will register the location for future forays. This can be an exciting event for the human observers but it can lead to bad outcomes for the bear.