We squirrels tend to like the treetops to ourselves–well, birds sometimes come by or move in for spring and summer nesting. But around the suburbs, we rule the treetops!
In late October, our squirrel correspondents in Stephens City, Virginia discovered that sometimes we squirrels have to share. This black bear cub apparently sought shelter in their tree after becoming separated from his mother bear.
The resident humans were all in a furry–maybe on behalf of squirrels?–and alerted some kind wildlife rescue folks that scoured the area in search of the mama.
They finally determined he must be orphaned and took the baby bear to a wildlife center to be cared for until he is old enough to be freed to live on his own. American black bears are found widely across North America, and prefer woodlands that produce nuts–acorns, beechnuts and pine seeds–in plentiful supply. They also eat wild cherries, wild grapes, and berries on the vegetable side of things that we squirrels also enjoy. Like squirrels, they don’t mind feasting on insects, but then their large size takes off in directions we don’t want to think about, because they eat fish and any other animals they can capture, like–shudder–small mammals!
If they can’t find enough food in the forests, or if they learn easy pickings can be found in the delacatesin of human homes, cars, garbage, livestock food, bird feeders, pet food, beehives…you get the idea…they will move on in and take that opportunity humans are providing.
As much as it pains Hickory and I to say it–
“No, don’t!” Hickory chitters.
–please keep these human sources of food secured if you suspect black bears are nearby. They are totally into the reward of food. What squir–animal isn’t? Humans have those tricky ways of locking garbage cans and electrical fences that we’ve heard are cheap ways to discourage a bear–especially if you see the damage these big guys can do to a home!
Of course, the real reason is to keep these guys around and living safely in the world we all now share.
A friend to The Squirrel Nutwork brought this story to our attention and gained permission to share the baby bear’s photographs with our readers. Thank you, Nancy!