DO BEARS HIBERNATE IN THE SOUTH?
In the Southern States, do bears hibernate?True hibernation does not describe black bears. Denning, also known as ursid hibernation or carnivore lethargy, is what they really experience instead.
All black bear populations experience this period of dormancy. Some of the causes of winter dormancy are a drop in reproductive activity, a decrease in food supplies, shorter days, and cooler temperatures.
Bears in the south sleep less deeply and den for shorter amounts of time than their northern counterparts do because of the warmer temperatures. Denned bears in the North are less active and more resistant to human interaction than their Southern counterparts. Also, male bears in the south, such as in Florida, may have a shorter or nonexistent denning time.
What Constitutes a Den
Denning in Florida often lasts little more than a month or two for non-pregnant females and also males
Expectant mothers typically spend the whole winter underground. Because they will be giving birth in the den, they tend to pick safer locations. Common den locations include underground ‘nests’ in dense underbrush, tree cavities, and under blow-downs/fallen logs.
Reproduction and breeding
When a bear reaches the age of three or four, it is considered sexually mature. Black bears have a short mating season, from the end of June to the beginning of August. Among mammals, bears are known for their unusual reproductive adaption known as “delayed implantation.” In the summer, the egg gets fertilized, but it doesn’t attach to the uterine wall until November or December. The fertilized egg may be reabsorbed, the fetus may not continue to grow, or the female may miscarry and consume the fetus if the mother’s health is poor. Generally speaking, a healthier mother will produce more healthy cubs. This strategy helps the female avoid having more young than she can care for during times of food scarcity.
The Young Bear
It takes roughly 8-12 weeks for the fertilized egg to develop within the mother. At birth, a bear cub weighs about 8 to 15 ounces (225 to 450 grams), making it roughly the same size as a little squirrel.
Bear cubs have a fine fuzz of hair and closed eyelids when they are born. Florida’s usual litter size is 1-3 cubs, however, some litters have as many as 5.
Bear cubs stay with their mothers in the den until spring when they emerge to spend their first summer and fall foraging and becoming used to life in the outdoors. They will probably certainly den with her again the following winter.
Depending on their size and age, bear cubs born in the spring are either “cubs of the year” or “yearlings” until the summer of their second year with their mom.
The family breaks up during the second summer. The little ones go their separate ways, and Mom is all set to start a new litter. Male yearlings are driven to locate new locations far distant from their mother’s home range, whereas female yearlings’ home ranges are more likely to be contiguous with or near their mothers’. Because of the time commitment involved in raising the cubs, mature females usually only breed once every two years.