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     As indicated in the interactions page, the life of a cub begins in the dead of winter in the warm safety of a den.  After emerging from the den (approximately 2.5 - 3 months old) in spring the sow will teach her cubs everything about how to survive, what to eat, what to avoid, how to fish, etc.  After their first summer they will learn how to prepare for winter and how to pick a den. 

Chocolate cub, photo credit to Dan Brown

     Research regarding denning ecology for Black Bears throughout the United States has provided general data on the characteristics they prefer.  Specific habitats have an effect on the types of sites chosen.  Overall, single or with cubs, sows seem to prefer tree denning, although other sites include excavated denning sites, brush and rock piles, caves, or even man-made "natural" dens or human-use structures that just happen to make convenient dens (Ryan, C. W. and Vaughan, M. R. 2004). 

     Cubs emerge from the den with their mother for their second spring and remain with her until she goes into estrus.  Black Bear sows go into estrus based on their physical condition which is

Half mount by Dan's Taxidermy, Credit to Dan Brown.
found via research to be correlated with mast tree production.  Determined by food availability, females go into estrus between May and September (Bridges A. S., et al. 2011).  When this occurs the yearling is now on his/her own.

     For female yearlings, it will be another year before they experience their first estrus and produce cubs after sexual reproduction.  Even so, for many first breedings only one cub is produced, born when the female reaches her third year.  Consecutively, four year old female bears generally produce two cubs.  For bears five and older, a litter of three is the most common, and though rare, even four have been witnessed (Bridges A. S., et al. 2011).

     For male yearlings, although they meet sexual maturity at the same time as the females, they often do not get a chance to mate until they can out-compete other males in both weight and a fight, often around seven years of age or older (Costello, C. M. et al., 2009).
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