black bears

Happy National Black Bear Day, Marylanders!

Eva Niessner

Happy National Black Bear Day, Marylanders!

We're willing to bet you didn't know that the first Saturday in June is National Black Bear Day! This tradition was founded in North Carolina in 2018, but Maryland has plenty of these wild critters roaming throughout the western part of the state, and they're worth learning more about -- and celebrating, too. Here are a few more facts you may not have known about these bear-y cool creatures.

1. They're not always black!

The name is misleading, since black bears can be many shades of black, brown, and even cinnamon or blonde. However, black bears on the west coast are more likely to be pale in color than ones around here. 

 

2. They eat just about everything

They're true omnivores! They'll munch on berries, grasses, and fruits, but also love to dine on fish. They also, unfortunately, love to eat human garbage, so be sure to lock up your trash tightly if you're in black bear territory. 

 

3. They're Maryland's largest mammal

If you live in Washington, Allegany, Garrett, or even Frederick counties, there's a chance you may have encountered a black bear in the wild. If you're camping out in these areas this summer, be smart! They can be up to 600 pounds and even though they're not as large as grizzlies, they need to have their space respected. 

 

4. They've been celebrities

Remember Smokey Bear, who reminds you that only you can prevent forest fires? A real black bear cub was partially burned in a forest fire back in 1950. He was named Smokey, and after he recovered from his injuries, he came to live at the National Zoo in DC and spent his life enjoying public attention and peanut butter sandwiches. 

 

5. They're expert climbers

Thanks to their very strong claws, a black bear can get up a tree with ease, especially young ones. They use this ability to escape from predators (usually other bears or human hunters), catch prey, and check out smells. 

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