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West Virginia State Animal

Black Bear

State Symbol: West Virginia State Animal: Black Bear

(Ursus americanus)

Adopted on March 23, 1973

The Black Bear, or (Ursus americanus,) is actually deeply tinted with brown. The black bear roams freely throughout 36 states and Canada, while its West Virginia habitat primarily is in the eastern mountain region of the state. One or two cubs, rarely three, are born at a time, weighing about eight ounces each. The adult reaches an average maximum weight of 250 pounds.

The Black Bear was selected as West Virginia's official State Animal by a poll of students, teachers and sportsmen conducted by the Division of Natural Resources in 1954-1955, and adopted by the Legislature as the official state animal on March 23, 1973, the Senate approved the resolution designating the black bear the official state animal of West Virginia and the brook trout the official state fish of West Virginia.

West Virginia State Animal: Black Bear

State Symbol: West Virginia State Animal: Black Bear

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Black bears are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The American black bear is the world's most common bear species.

Anatomy

American Black Bears are up to 6 feet (1.8 m) long and weigh up to 300 pounds (135 kg). Their long, thick fur ranges in color from black to brown. Like all bears, they are plantigrade (flat-footed). The front claws are longer than the rear claws. Its habitat in West Virginia is primarily in the eastern mountain region. The black bear still roams freely throughout 36 states and Canada.

Behavior

Black Bears are good swimmers and can also climb trees. They have a good sense of smell but have poor eyesight. They are afraid of Grizzly Bears and stay far away from them.

Cubs

Two to three cubs are born during the winter while the mother hibernates. Cubs stay with the mother for about one year.

Diet

American Black Bears are omnivores who eat plants, leaves, fruits, berries, nuts, roots, honey, insects, and other small mammals.

Reproduction

State Symbol: West Virginia State Animal: Black Bear Cub

Females reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years of age and mating will take place in June, July and August. Pairs may come together for a few hours or several days, copulating many times. Gestation is approximately 220 days and the cubs are born in their mother's winter den in January or February. Cubs are weaned at around 8 months but may remain with their mother for a year and a half.

Social Organization

Black bears are usually solitary animals except females with young. A pair may come together for several days during mating season and in time of abundant food, several bears may feed closely together with little interaction. Male bears keep large territories that overlap the smaller ranges of several females. Bears will leave territorial signposts both through scent marking and by leaving long claw marks in tree bark.

West Virginia Law

On March 23, 1973, the Senate approved House Concurrent Resolution No. 6 designating the black bear the official state animal of West Virginia and the brook trout the official state fish of West Virginia, therefore, not neither are recorded as the official animal of the state in the West Virginia Code.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Black Bear

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species: U. americanus

State Mammals
State Mammals & Animals
Mammals are vertebrates (backboned animals) that feed their young on mother's milk.
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