Many of us have followed the antics of the black bears that seem to have found some appeal to the SouthCoast area in recent years. Though the bears generally don't live in our immediate area, the number of bear visits is increasing.

Some might argue that climate change is forcing the bear out of the woods to search for food. Mass Audubon recently reported on the loss of some 5,000 acres of forest land in Massachusetts to solar arrays. The loss of forest land means a reduction in the natural habitat for bears and other forest animals. As suburbia expands, even more natural habitat is lost.

In addition to all of that, the black bear population in Massachusetts is rapidly growing.

When Do Massachusetts Black Bears Hit The Sheets For The Winter?
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loading... says, "The population of bears is estimated to be over 4,500 animals and is growing and expanding eastward." According to the site, "Black bears live and breed in Worcester County, northern Middlesex County, and west to the Berkshires."

"Black bears are not considered 'deep' hibernators. When bears enter the den, usually between early November and mid-December, their body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate drop to conserve energy and help the bear survive the winter months."

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While most black bears hibernate during the winter months, emerging from slumber between February and mid-April, not all do.

When Do Massachusetts Black Bears Hit The Sheets For The Winter?
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Photo

Mass Audubon says, "Black bears typically den in caves, brush piles, depressions under fallen trees, or rock crevices." The site says, "Occasionally, a bear will just curl up on the ground and wait to be covered with snow."

Except for mothers with cubs, bears den alone. reminds folks to keep trash cans covered and not to leave food out for wild animals, especially during the winter months when natural bear food supplies are low.

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