Black Bears on the Refuge

With summer time in full swing, visitors to the inn come hoping to see a glimpse of one of the beautiful black bears, on the refuge. While this is an exhilarating experience, it does come with responsibility.

Momma bear and cubs in the Refuge - Kate Spencer Photo

The bears of the refuge are American Black Bears. The Black Bear is the most common bear in the world and found exclusively in North America. There are an estimated 25,000 Black Bears in the State of Washington compared to the approximately 20 Grizzly Bears.

Our guests are often surprised to learn that not all Black Bears are black. In the state of Washington, black and a beautiful cinnamon to cinnamon-brown is the most common coloring but a brown-blonde and even a rare blue-gray color, can be seen. Bears are relatively small at 130 lbs. (females) to 225 lbs. (males).

Young bear on Kingfisher deck

Black Bears can be found almost anywhere in the state, including neighborhoods. Black Bears are omnivores and will eat almost anything they can find, including the seats in your car (face it, your car smells like fast food). When behaving as a bear should, they consume nuts, berries, leaves, grasses, fish, insects and carrion. They also LOVE black oiled sunflower seeds! Because of the number of Black Bear on the refuge this season, Run of the River made the very difficult decision to abandoned its bird/birding program for the 2017 season. When making this decision, we carefully considered the natural foods available for the birds of the refuge and ultimately the safety of our black bear community. According to the Washington Department of Wildlife, to get 20,00 calories a day that a black bear needs, when fattening up in the fall for its winter hibernation, a black bear would need approximately 80 pounds of blueberries, 700 acorns and 25,000 tent caterpillars (now there’s an organic way to get rid of this destructive insect) …or 7 lbs. of black oiled sunflower seeds. Once a bear becomes accustomed to the careless offerings which humans provide, such as birdseed, pet food, BBQs, coolers and trash, it is difficult to recondition the bear back to natural foraging. Unfortunately, this can mean a death sentence for the bear.

We encourage you to join us this fall for an awe-inspiring glimpse of these magnificent creatures.

(Thanks to Curk and Karen for this great shot from the spring cherry feast!)

Bear Eating Cherries

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