Happy National Wildlife Week. We're going to talk a little bit about black bears.

Now despite black being in their name, not all black bears are black. Many of them are actually brown or almost like a rusty cinnamon colored and there's even some populations that have like a blue-gray fur and one population that actually has white fur - white black bears.

So they're a species that has a really wide range all across North America. That's why you get some of this variation. And you might actually have black bears where you live.

Yes, indeed. It's amazing how many more black bears there are now. There are as many now as there were in the 1800s. Imagine that. So the chances of an encounter when you're out hiking or backpacking or entering or any time in the woods, if you're fortunate enough to see a black bear, enjoy at a distance through your binoculars.

Here's an interesting thing about black bears - they have one of the most sensitive noses in the world. Food is what drives them. They have to fatten up to be able to hibernate for the winter, so never leave your pet food out. And if you're camping, never leave your food out.

If a black bear becomes habituated to people and associates people with food, you may have written a death sentence. They get three strikes and then sometimes they have to be euthanized. So enjoy them at a distance, bring your pet food inside, never leave food out and appreciate the fact that our national black bears are back for us to see.

That's exactly right and you know this is a perfect example of how we can very easily co-exist even with big animals. They're not interested in us, but as Peter said, as long as you don't feed them or kind of habituate them to human presence, you're not going to have any problems.

And that really is what National Wildlife Week is all about - celebrating our wild neighbors.

So I hope everyone out there takes the pledge right now.

Updated on May 29, 2024

Black Bears of Colorado

The black bear is found all across North America. Have you seen them in your town? Learn more about these furry friends (from a distance) and how we can safely coexist from National Wildlife Federation’s David Misejewski and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom host Peter Gros.

Our new series, Protecting the Wild, features an amazing story of black bear cubs. After a wildfire in Washington state drove animals across the region out of their habitat, the cubs, which were barely able to walk and suffered second-degree burns and respiratory issues, were rehabilitated and were released back into the wild. Learn more about our new series.

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