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Black Bears


Aug 19, 2003
Trouble bruin? Will we have a Planet of the Bears? This could polarise debate.

Black bears show counting skills on computers
By Matt Bardo
Reporter, BBC Nature

Deep in thought? Bears can "do something analogous to counting", researchers say

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Black bears have demonstrated counting abilities, in a first for the species.

Three captive bears took a series of number-based tests on a touch-screen computer, research published in the journal Animal Behaviour showed.

They had to choose between two different-sized sets of dots and were rewarded with food for correct answers.

"People don't generally understand them to be as intelligent as they probably are," said Jennifer Vonk, the researcher who led the study.

Although bears have the largest relative brain size of any carnivore, their cognition is not well understood.

Continue reading the main story
Bear in mind

Black bears have a large brain size in comparison to their bodies. They have been filmed doing some remarkable things:

Bears versus bees: See the stings a black bear endures for the taste of honey
Going it alone: Meet an abandoned bear cub, surviving on her own in the wilderness
Climbing daredevils: Look at how high up in the forest black bear cubs can climb
Bear bite: Find out how a BBC cameraman got a warning bite from an adult bear
Takeaway fish: Watch a white black bear go fishing for the first time
Or look on BBC Nature Wildlife Finder

Dr Vonk, an assistant professor in psychology at Oakland University said that the North American black bears were first trained to understand the process and equipment involved in the tests.

"This is the first published work with bears working on a touch screen," she said. "It hasn't been done with any large carnivores."

The experiment then involved presenting the bears with two sets of dots or "arrays".

"Basically we were looking to see if they can understand to choose less or choose more," she said.

They touched the screen to select one or other of the arrays, and were given food if they got the answer right.

One bear was rewarded for touching the screen with a greater number dots, and for the other two bears, a correct answer was an array with a fewer number of dots.

The team wanted to ensure that the animals were not merely estimating magnitude, a skill that has been shown by many animals.

"We're really trying to differentiate between the ability to perceptually discriminate amount from actually quantifying a number of items," explained Dr Vonk.

So the team varied the pattern of the dots and the shaded area on which the arrays were shown, and in some tests the dots were also moving.

North American black bears benefit from being able to turn their hand to wide range of tasks
"If there's more dots and less area covered - it's a better indication that they actually do something analogous to counting rather than just estimating the amount of something," Dr Vonk said.

Although the study found that bears did better when the size of the area corresponded to the number of dots, they also found that the bears were capable of compensating for an area that was smaller or larger than normal for the number of dots it contained.

"What was important is that we showed that they could work against that in some of the tests," Dr Vonk said.

Black bears in the wild are often solitary, non-social animals, so the results suggested that animals that do not live in a group may have the ability to make number-based judgements.

"This is really the first test of a species that has not evolved to live socially to see if they can individuate items," she said.

"I think we can't really say that they're absolutely counting at this point but it does look like they're attending to the number of items and not just the area."

Similar tests on primate species allowed the scientists to compare the ability of the black bears with non-human primates.

For at least one of the bears, they found a pattern that matched.

These results are among the first to show that bears may have cognitive abilities that are equal to primates.

"I've been working for a while with these bears... but simultaneously I was working with a chimpanzee," said Dr Vonk.

"I find that their abilities so far in terms of categorisation and forming more abstract concepts seem quite comparable."

The techniques used to research the bears' skills could be used in the future to look at bear cognition in more depth.

"It really opens up the door to asking all kinds of comparative and cognitive questions with a species that really hasn't been investigated in that way before," she said.
An Asiatic black bear shot in Japan had human tissue in its gut. The bear was shot by hunters near the site of the fourth fatal bear attack to occur in the Akita prefecture in the last three weeks.

While the Asiatic black bear has a similar lifestyle to the American black bear, it is significantly more aggressive, says David Garshelis, co-chair of the IUCN Bear Specialist Group. Bear attacks are common in this area of Japan, but they rarely result in people being killed as prey.

It remains unclear whether the bear that has been shot was responsible for all four of the killings, says Garshelis.

Local police have warned people in the area to avoid the bears’ mountain habitats. The most recent victim, a 74-year-old woman, had been gathering edible plants in a forest. The previous bear attacks had all been on men picking bamboo shoots in the region, in three separate incidents.

People who gather edible plants at this time of year are at high risk, because bears eat these plants too, says Garshelis. What’s more, the victims were probably isolated and looking down at the ground – not talking and making noise, which would normally keep bears away. They may also have been carrying daypacks that smelled of food, Garshelis suggests. ...

A 61-year-old man from northern Ontario said he was lucky to walk away with only scratches after facing off against a 320lb black bear with only his fists and the skills gleaned from years of featherweight boxing.

Rick Nelson was walking his dog outside the city of Sudbury on Sunday when a black bear cub poked its head out of a shrub some three feet away from him. “It was so close I could touch it. It let out a yelp, because I scared the heck out of it,” he said.

As his dog barked at the cub, the former bear hunter knew he only had seconds to spare before the cub’s mother would arrive to defend her cub. “I knew right away I was in trouble,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “It’s calling for mommy.”

He soon heard a crashing noise in the bushes. “The mother was coming full speed,” he said. “And it came and it meant business.” The bear stood on her hind legs as she eyed him.

Nelson looked around him. He had nothing to fight off the bear – no rocks or sticks – but he had spent a lot of time in the ring perfecting his boxing technique.

As the bear took a swing at him, Nelson responded with a right-hand jab, grazing the bear’s lips and teeth and tearing up his knuckles in the process. The bear struck back, carving inches-long gashes into Nelson’s face and chest. ...

Alaska teen chased and killed by bear during running race
19 June 2017

A "large black bear" has killed a 16-year-old boy who was participating in a popular trail running race in Alaska on Sunday, police say.

Patrick Cooper of Anchorage texted his family to say he was being chased by a bear while descending the extremely steep terrain.

The race director, who had been handing out awards, organised a search party of runners after he was shown the message.

Officials shot the bear in the face, but it survived and ran off.

"It did definitely take a slug strike to the face when the ranger fired on it," said Tom Crockett, a park ranger with Chugach State Park, near to the city of Anchorage.

"We know he struck it," he added.

Wildlife and law enforcement officials are still searching for the bear, which they intend to kill if found.

"People come down off the trail and say they've run into a bear. Sometimes that means nothing; other times, it's really serious. Like this."

Now a bear locks itself in a room.

A black bear has been found sleeping in a wardrobe after apparently locking itself into a room in a home in the US state of Montana.

Alerted to the intrusion in Butler Creek, police said the large mammal just yawned when officers knocked on the window to wake it up.

It eventually had to be tranquilised and removed.

Police warned people to lock up their homes as the bear reportedly tried at least two other doors in the area.

They said the bear had somehow entered a laundry room in the house and managed to bolt the door from the inside.

Three Cheers for the dog!

BRISTOL, Va. (AP) — An orphaned black bear cub has been placed with a substitute mother this week after being saved by a dog and brought to safety.

The rescue effort unfolded after the dog turned up at its owner’s home in Washington County with a cub in its mouth on Feb. 5, Bill Bassinger, wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, told news outlets. The male cub wasn’t hurt by the dog, he added.

The cub, estimated to be two to three weeks old, was taken to the Virginia Wildlife Center in Waynesboro for treatment and eventual resettlement with his own species.

Vid at link.

Security cameras at a home in Ontario were recording when a black bear walked in through the front door and foraged for pizza.

The video, recorded by Sean Atkinson's security cameras at his Oro-Medonte home, shows the bear open the unlocked front door and walk inside.

The bear is seen rummaging through a trio of pizza boxes on the floor before exiting back out through the front door.

Atkinson said the incident should serve as a reminder to not leave out garbage, as it can attract bears and other wildlife.

Just goes to show-- you can't build houses willy nilly out in nature! It"s safer to live in the big city. :badge:
Since I first started posting in this thread, news stories of black bear encounters seem to be seeking me out. Perhaps there's something oddly Fortean about it. Anyway, here's another...

Video captures moment giant black bear sneaks up on hikers taking photo
This is the heart-stopping moment a black bear approaches a group of fearless hikers, while they snap a selfie with the animal.

According to The Sun, the hikers kept their cool when the curious bear approached them from behind on a trail in Mexico.
The encounter reportedly happened at a popular hiking trail at Chipinque Ecological Park in San Pedro Garza García, according to a person who shared the video.
Footage shows a woman standing very still as a black bear, perched on its hind legs, approaches and sniffs her.
Since I first started posting in this thread, news stories of black bear encounters seem to be seeking me out. Perhaps there's something oddly Fortean about it. Anyway, here's another...

Video captures moment giant black bear sneaks up on hikers taking photo


Poor bear.

There is outrage in Mexico after a black bear seen on video approaching a visitor in a nature park and sniffing her hair was caught and castrated.

Some people are questioning plans to move the animal to a different state.

But experts say the move is necessary because it had become accustomed to being fed by humans in the ecological park where it lived.

They said the footage showed the consequences of feeding wild animals for the sake of a selfie.

Today I learned of the life & death of Pablo Eskobear, a 175 pound black bear who lived the good life and died by misadventure due to the recklessness and criminality of man.
Being curious by nature, Pablo one day came across some 40 kg of cocaine in the forest and consumed the lot, thereby causing his demise.
Read the story of his life and death below (video featuring his taxidermied remains below that):


On September 11, 1985 an elderly Kentucky man named Fred Myers awoke to find a dead man lying on his driveway. If this wasn’t odd enough, the deceased individual was wearing a bulletproof vest, Gucci loafers, night vision goggles, a large satchel, and a parachute. When the police arrived and investigated further, they found he also had on his person two handguns, a couple of knives, $4,500 in cash, ropes, and food.

So what was in the satchel? About $15 million worth of cocaine…

Black bear tries to hitch a lift.

Terrifying moment rampaging bear chases cars and tries to climb into a moving truck on a forest road in India - a day after two villagers were mauled to death
  • Incident happened on an empty road cutting through forest in Ambikapur, India
  • The best would not give up as it tried to attache itself onto the wheel of the truck
  • Two men were killed by a bear just days before as they collected wood in forests