Home Animals Black Bears in New Hampshire (Diet, Lifestyle, Habitat, more)

Black Bears in New Hampshire (Diet, Lifestyle, Habitat, more)

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black bears

New Hampshire is well known for its incredible wilderness and the majestic animals it hosts. Bears in particular can be found living across much of the state. The black bear, more common throughout New Hampshire, is often seen wandering around searching for nuts and berries to eat. In contrast, the higher mountain areas may host the rarer but no less beloved sight of American Black bears. Whether you’re hiking in a remote area or staying closer to home, you may be treated to the occasional glance at these powerful animals as they go about their day. 

black bears in new hampshire

Are there Black bears in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire is home to a unique subspecies of black bears living in the Northeast. It has a distinctive jet-black colour and a white front shoulder patch. This species can be found all throughout New England, invading far Northern parts of Maine and extending down into Massachusetts. They are generally not aggressive and are solitary creatures that prefer to keep out of sight, remaining as reclusive as possible. 

Where are bears located in New Hampshire?

Black bears are the only species of bear located in New Hampshire and they can most commonly be found in wooded areas, especially near mountain ranges. While black bears may not inhabit every corner of the Granite State, spotting one has become a bit easier over the years due to their expanding habitats.

Habitat

Black bears typically occupy forests, meadows, and swamps; they favour dense vegetation as habitat before all else. Seclusions from human activity are key for Black Bear safety, meaning their expansion chances diminish with increasing development at local or regional scales. While too much human presence can become hazardous for them, the availability of food sources within communities has allowed bears to live alongside humans in some suburban areas throughout the Granite State. 

Diet

They are opportunistic feeders and eat fruits, nuts, insects, honey and anything else that will provide them with sustenance. In the summer months, they prefer to consume plant foods such as berries or other sweet material whilst, during the winter, they tend to dine on carrion and small prey such as rodents or deer.

black bears group

Colour

Black bears in New Hampshire are usually not pure black, but range in colour from cinnamon to blonde and even brown! These variations have been attributed to the genetic diversity of bears that have migrated through the area over time. The most predominant colour for black bears in New Hampshire is dark chocolate brown, so it’s easy to spot one against its wooded backdrop.

Size, Lifespan and Weight 

The average black bear will weigh between 150 to 600 pounds, or even more in some cases. In terms of length, an adult black bear can have a total standing size of 3 to 7 feet. Furthermore, black bears are long-lived species with a lifespan of approximately 15 – 25 years when living in the wild, and up to 30 years when in captivity. 

Predators

Bears in South Carolina have the occasional run-in with some of their more vicious predators, such as coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. Fortunately for the bears, they are generally much larger than their predators and can often repel the attack. Still, if the predator sees an opportunity like a bear cub being left alone for even just a few minutes it might rush in to feed or carry away the smaller animal.

This is something all bear families should keep in mind when venturing into New Hampshire’s forests and mountain ranges; while they may never see any of these predators on their travels, they must still be aware that they could be nearby lurking in shadows or behind tall grasses.

bear in open

Reproduction

Black bears in New Hampshire are equipped with sophisticated reproductive strategies that have allowed the species to thrive, even in the face of intense competition for resources. Their mating period starts in mid-May, although different populations have slight variations in timing. During this time, female bears will mate with multiple males and store sperm from each mating until wintertime when she enters into a state of delayed implantation.

This means that although her body can hold onto multiple sets of sperm at once, it won’t begin the process of producing cubs until later on in the year. A few months after entering hibernation, she’ll give birth to litters averaging two cubs (though litters can range between one and four). The mother bear will raise these cubs on her own over the winter before they venture out on their own come springtime.

How many bears are in New Hampshire?

There are believed to be about 4,000-4,700 black bears currently living in New Hampshire. Although some reports of sightings are not always accurate, a recent report by the NH Fish and Game Department stated that there were at least 6,500 black bears across the state in 2018. With an increasing number of bear sightings reported, it is more likely that the population has increased since 2018.

bear in wild

When do black bears hibernate in New Hampshire?

Black bears in New Hampshire usually begin their hibernation period in mid-October and will remain sleeping through March or early April. During this period, they can lose up to 30% of their body weight in fat reserves and will not search for food or water. Though they are inactive while hibernating, they may awaken briefly to check on cubs or move dens if conditions become too uncomfortable.

Reference:

https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/bears/faqs.html

https://www.visitnh.gov/blog/where-to-spot-new-hampshire%E2%80%99s-wildlife

https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/profiles/black-bear.html

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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.

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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.

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