The bears you may encounter in Massachusetts are black bears, the most common of the three bear types that live in North America. Black bears grow to about five feet tall and can weigh 100 to 600 pounds. A black bear’s diet consists mostly of fruits, nuts, and insects along with small live prey and carrion, making them omnivorous. Black bears live solitary lives except when they are courting mates and rearing cubs. Cubs are usually born in the spring and stay with their mothers until they are about two years old. They become sexually mature at about age three, but usually don’t breed until age five.
POSSIBLE CONFLICTS & SOLUTIONS
Although black bears have historically shied away from humans, they may wander onto human-inhabited property, primarily looking for food.
Take these steps to keep them away:
If you run into a black bear:
(Please note: These tips are for encounters with black bears only. If you are traveling in areas where other types of bears may be present, seek information and advice about how to handle bear encounters in those regions.)
A bear encounter can be scary. These animals are most dangerous when they are accompanied by cubs, are feeding or guarding food, are injured, or are startled by the sudden appearance of a human. Bears who have frequent exposure to humans in campgrounds or around garbage dumps are less fearful and can be more dangerous. If you are in an area where you know bears may be present, carry hot-pepper spray with capsaicin as the active ingredient (if legal in that state). If sprayed from 7 to 10 feet away, the repellent irritates the eyes without permanently injuring the animal.
Take the following steps if you spot a bear.
PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS
As with all mammals, bears can contract rabies.
MSPCA BLACK BEAR FACT SHEET