It’s late autumn. The days are getting colder and hours of daylight are decreasing. Most of the watershed’s hibernators have hunkered down by now.

Many people, when they hear the word, hibernation, think of the black bear. Although the black bear will go into its den and sleep through the worst of the winter weather, it is not a true hibernator. Animals that go into true hibernation experience a steep drop in both their body temperature and the rate of their heartbeat. While a bear’s heartbeat and temperature do drop, it is not as dramatic.

Unlike the black bear, which may wake up and even forage outside if there is a warm spell, true hibernators will remain in an almost comatose state until their hibernation period is over. In fact, mother bears wake up to give birth and tend to their newborn cubs in the winter.

How many of these other black bear facts do you know?

1. Which state in the watershed has the largest number of black bears?

A. Maryland
B. Pennsylvania
C. Virginia
D. West Virginia

2. The black bear, while not normally aggressive, is dangerous in which of these situations?

A. When its cubs are nearby
B. When they are surprised
C. When they are hungry, guarding their food or eating
D. All of the above

3. Which of these is a “bear tree”?

A. A tree that has claw marks all over it because it contains several sources of bear food, such as a bee hive or a grub colony
B. A tree that has hair caught in its bark because a bear frequently rubs up against to remove loose hair or scratch an itch
C. A tree that a bear has hollowed out for a den
D. A tree with broken branches because a bear has climbed up it.

4. A bear’s hind legs are shorter than its front legs. Does this mean that a bear runs faster uphill or downhill?

5. True or false? Bears are good swimmers.

6. When a bear opens a bee hive, it is after the:

A. Bees & larvae
B. Honey
C. Honeycomb
D. All of the above

7. A black bear eats:

A. Fish, frogs & fawns
B. Carrion (dead animals) & Garbage
C. Fruits, nuts & crops
D. All of the above

8. Black bears have very poor eyesight. Which of its senses are very good?

A. Hearing
B. Smell
C. Touch
D. Answers A & B

9. True or false? Most black bears make their dens in caves.

10. Which is larger, a male bear or a female bear?


1. B 2. D 3. B 4. Uphill 5. True 6. D 7. D 8. D 9. False. For one thing, there are not enough caves for all of the black bears, who den in hollow trees, enlarged dens of other animals or even under