Nature Notes

NATURE NOTES: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY BEARS!

By Robin Ecklund

In Colorado, black bears go into hibernation in November.  You might think this is a quiet, uneventful period but not so for the female bear!  Cubs are born in mid-January usually 1 or 2, rarely 3 to a litter in Colorado.  Tiny cubs are born blind, hairless and weigh less than 1 lb., about the size of a chipmunk.  They grow rapidly, nourished by their mother’s milk.  They nurse while mom sleeps.  At 4 weeks they open their eyes and by 5 weeks they can walk around the den. By the time they emerge from the den in April or May, they weigh 10 to 15 lbs. and are often seen frolicking around with mom nearby.  Cubs stay with their mothers learning vital survival skills and hibernate with her over the next winter.  Come spring, mom will send her 1 ½ year old offspring away to fend for themselves. In the meantime, Happy Birthday baby bears!