Bears

April 18, 2006

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Polar Bear SilhouetteHome Alone Bear Range

Because bears have to eat so much, they need lots of room to search for their food and not much competition with other animals. Scientists theorize that this is why bears usually live alone, unless they have cubs.

In Idaho, where food supplies are limited, bear home ranges tend to be large and have loose boundaries. Generally, male ranges are larger than female ranges Sometimes male bears will cover more than 50 square miles and will include the ranges of several females. This arrangement ensures the male will have a number of females for mating.

Female bears occupy home ranges that average 12 square miles and often overlap with other females. Bears have a definite social system for those times when they congregate around rich food sources. As with other large and powerful animals, social order allows bears of differing age, sex, and strength to feed closely without erupting into violent battles.

Roaring or raising hackles is often all it takes for an adult male to establish his dominance. Bears also communicate with vocalizations and with scent. A bear might stand and rub its back, shoulder, and head on a tree to leave a fragrant message that tells other bears, "I've been here," or "I'm ready to mate."

Bear "Talk"

Cubs talk more than adults:

  • squall in distress
  • whine when approaching their mother
  • hum when nursing or warm

Bears of all ages:

  • bawl when in pain
  • moan, huff, blow if afraid
  • bellow in combat
  • grunt to greet each other
  • huff, chomp jaws if threatened
Many thanks to Idaho Fish and Game and Project WILD for all of their help in this project. Information for this site developed from "WILD ABOUT BEARS," and is copyrighted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Idaho Project WILD. Permission obtained and granted to use this material for educational purposes. Photographic images were provided by the Department of Fish and Game.
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