MAMMALS OF THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON DC AREA
METROPOLITAN  NATURALIST
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

The black bear is well established in Western Maryland, from Frederick County westward. Reports of Black Bears
have increased throughout Central Maryland and Southern Maryland in recent years. It is believed that most of
these sightings are young males that have wandered from the western part of the state as they search for a
territory to call their own, possibly after being chased from their home by adult males who have already
established territories there. Bears are regularly reported in Northern Virginia, and adults with cubs have been
reported, suggesting that a breeding population is present. It seems likely that bears are here to stay and may
eventually establish a breeding population in central Maryland.

Bears are large and can potentially be dangerous, but generally steer clear of humans. They are omnivores, with
plants making up most of their diet. Generally when black bears do eat meat, they prefer to eat small prey,
including grubs and small mammals, or they eat carrion.


Although you might be fortunate enough to see a bear in the Baltimore-Washington Metro area, a short drive to
Shenandoah National Park will vastly increase your chances of seeing Black Bear in the wild. The pictures below
were taken at Shenandoah.
A mother bear and her cub eating leaves.
A bear cub.
A pair of cubs wrestle in the forest.
A bear scratches a tree. Scratch marks on a tree are believed to be a way of marking a bear's
territory. Scratch marks on a tree are a sign that a bear may be nearby.
Black bear cubs are quite adept at climbing trees and are often seen climbing or sitting in trees.