Fall is here and with cooler temperatures, changing leaves and shortened days, it’s a time when bears are highly active as they try to fatten up for the winter months! Black bears will spend up to 20 hours a day during the fall foraging for food; sometimes traveling long distances to find high calorie foods such as acorns, soft mast, or harvested crop fields. This time of feasting is called hyperphagia. Thus, fall can bring increased bear sightings, especially in years when hard mast crops (acorns) are not abundant. When natural foods are scarce, bears must travel longer distances and make more frequent excursions to find available food sources.
By mid-December, many bears will enter their winter dens. Black bears are not true hibernators; and in Virginia, they will often continue to be somewhat active throughout the winter, using den sites during periods of harsh weather or when food resources become scarce. Pregnant females will den for the duration of the winter so they can give birth to their cubs and keep them within the den until early spring.
Continue to be BearWise® around your home or when recreating to ensure you’re not attracting bears to an unnatural food source such as birdfeeders, trash or pet food. Secure outside buildings, openings under porches or houses and recreational vehicles to prevent a sleepy bear from using these areas as a potential den site this winter.