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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, January 1, 2016

In the early 1800's "there were an estimated 50,000 black bears in what was to become the state of Arkansas"................ "Biologists estimate that pre-settlement Arkansas was covered in almost 100% forest except for the extreme northwestern corner".......... "This population estimate projects one bear per square mile across the entire state"......... "Before 1923, Arkansas was without an official tagline and was unofficially known as “The Bear State"........... "Some experts believe the nutrient rich oak hickory forests of the Ozarks, Ouachitas and Gulf Coastal plains made some of the most pristine bear habitat on earth"............ "Correspondingly, bear populations in Arkansas were estimated to be one of the largest in North America"........... When early explorers arrived the Arkansas black bear reigned supreme as the top carnivore, living off of the fat of the land"...............And just like everywhere else in America, land clearing and carnivore persecution left "the Bear State" with only some 40 bruins by 1940...........The State Game Commission stepped up large In 1958 to begin to bring the Black Bear back to regrowing forests in the Ozarks and Ouachita ranges".............."Bears from Minnesota and Canada were traded for bass and wild turkey from Arkansas"............. "Over the course of the next 10 years approximately 254 of the Bears were released in three known sites in the Ozark and Ouachita range"................. "The Ozark releases were in northern Franklin county in the Black Mountain area (White Rock) and at Piney Creek in Johnson county"......... "In the Ouachitas bears were released in the Muddy Creek area"...............And the result of this fine effort has Arkansas now with a thriving Black Bear population of some 4500..

The Greatest Restoration

A Tale of the Arkansas Black Bear

Black Bear hunt in Arkansas-circa 1890


Arkansas: The Bear State

By Amanda Bancroft | December 30, 2015

Courtesy Photo Black bears are solitary animals, but even so, the carrying capacity of any given habitat may be good enough to support several bears in a couple square miles.
Courtesy Photo
Black bears are solitary animals, but even so, the carrying capacity of any given habitat may be good enough to support several bears in a couple square miles.
Before Arkansas was known as “The Natural State,” it was informally referred to as “The Bear State” because we had so many black bears (Ursus americanus). But by the 1930’s, bear populations were reduced so dramatically from habitat loss and overhunting that there were less than 50 black bears in the state. Yet black bear conservation and recovery in Arkansas has been a model for conservation.
Bears are omnivores and eat a variety of foods, but mostly plants like berries, nuts, fruits and seeds. They also eat fish, honey, bird’s eggs, dead animals, insects, grains and grasses. This helps them store up enough fat reserves to last through the winter. If you see claw marks on a rotting log, it could indicate that a black bear was searching for grubs. But if there are no distinct signs of a bear, it could mean that a pileated woodpecker has been pecking into the dead tree and weakened it enough for it to fall.
Black bears are solitary animals, but even so, the carrying capacity of any given habitat may be good enough to support several bears in a couple square miles. In the summer, males wander to find females, so a male’s home range is generally larger for this reason. After mating, the fertilized egg won’t start growing until late fall when females begin hibernation – but black bears are not true hibernators: their body temperature only drops a little, and they are easily disturbed from sleep despite not having to drink, eat or excrete wastes for up to six months!
A female’s body may reabsorb the fertilized eggs if she lives in a poor habitat or was not able to store up enough fat reserves to sustain both herself and the pregnancy throughout the winter. But if she successfully gives birth, black bear milk is very nutritious (unlike panda bear milk, which is not, due to their low-nutrient bamboo diet) so cubs grow fast. They stay with mom for about 18 months, then venture out on their own as yearlings.

Bears den in caves, tree cavities, rock crevices, large burrows or leafy brush piles, or even tree nests. If you happen across a bear in its den, be aware that you can easily awaken them. Context matters in bear confrontations with people. Females with cubs are more dangerous than solitary bears. If you surprise a bear accidentally, do not run. Bears can run faster than humans. Make lots of noise and back away slowly. Never get close to bears or feed them. We need them to be afraid of humans and not see us as food sources because they quickly become nuisance animals: “a fed bear is a dead bear.”
Although bears are often viewed as nuisance animals, they do help people and are an indicator species for the biodiversity of a habitat. Healthy bears, healthy habitat. They’re important in research on curing kidney disease, too. By learning more about these beautiful animals and what to do to stay safe in bear country, we can minimize conflicts and enjoy our natural state.
Amanda Bancroft is a Master Naturalist and volunteers with her husband Ryan for their solar-powered online educational center on how to make a difference with everyday choices at:

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