June 17, 2012 by: Ann Harwood
Bears "Smell the Flowers" at St. Ignatius, MT Bed & Breakfast
I named Bear Spirit Lodge B&B to honor the bears that live here in the Mission Mountains & even on my land, a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. Bear cubs were playing in the trees when I moved in, and the name stuck. Although a grizzly bear lived here on my land in the summer of 1999, I rarely see them passing through. Every summer I see several black bears around here, & some mark their territory around my 10 acres.
Black bears are not as aggressive as grizzly bears, and most often tend to want to avoid humans. I once read that bears are as smart as dogs, and sometimes you have to talk to them like they are a dog. Of course, that is through the front door of the house telling them to go away. There is no "people" food here for them.
The black bear is omnivorous which means it eats vegetation, berries, insects, fish, and meat from small and big animals. They love huckleberries, a wild berry that grows in the mountains. During the fall, they eat more than usual to gain body fat to sustain them through their winter "hibernation", which is not a true hibernation, but rather a deep sleep from which they can awaken quickly. They eat hawthorne berries prior to hibernation, because they are good for the heart and circulation. (Also for people).
When food is abundant, they will eat up to 45 lbs. a day and put on 5 lbs. per day in preparation for winter. During winter "hibernation", the bear may only eat once a week, or if it is very cold he will not eat for a month. While "hibernating", the black bear does not urinate or defecate.
The black bear's name is deceptive. It is a species name and does not refer to their color as they can range from pure black to cinnamon to blonde. Black bears in the East are nearly black, while those in the West are black to cinnamon with a white blaze on their chest. The black bears in Alaska can have a blue or white color phase to blend with their snowy surroundings. Black bears reach maturity in about 3 years and can live up to 25 years in the wild. They are truly beautiful and an important part of the habitat in Montana & several other states, too.