Thanks to my sister who lives in Connecticut and sent me these photos of a black bear (Ursus americanus) out for a midnight munch. Her and her husband often set up a motion sensitive camera in the woods behind their home to get a glimpse of who's hanging around in the wee hours of the night.
This is the first time they've caught a black bear on film. Most visitors are deer, oppossum, racoons, and coyotes. According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, there have been over 1,300 reported black bear sightings in the state since November 2008. It's hard to believe that during the 1800s black bears were almost completely wiped out in Connecticut.
Black bear are omnivores and eat anything from insects to grasses, fruits, nuts, berries, carrion and small mammals. Of course, they're also attracted by garbage and seeds and suet put out for birds. At this time of year, the bears are getting ready to den for the winter. Contrary to popular belief, black bears are not true hibernators and will come out during the winter. Bear cubs are born during the winter in January or February weighing only a few ounces. But they can really pack on the pounds. By the time they're adults, males can weigh up to 400+ pounds and females about 200 pounds.
Closer to home, a black bear was spotted in Methuen, Mass. this September checking out someone's backyard pig sty. MassWildlife biologists have been studying Massachusett's black bear population since the 1970s. It currently stands about 3,000. Unlike Connecticut, Massachusetts does have a regulated black bear hunting season to help keep the population in check. See their site for excellent information on Massachusetts' black bears.