How Do Black Bears Cool Off In The Summer?

By Joe Murgo

Published 07/18 2014 09:57PM

Updated 07/18 2014 10:17PM

Spotted By Heather 2014
Spotted By Heather 2014


American Black BearWe talked about American black bear hibernation last October. But now it’s summertime, and black bears are out and about!

Where can black bears be seen? Historically, black bears were found almost everywhere in the United States, Canada and northern Mexico. Today, they can still be found throughout Canada, in at least 40 of the 50 U.S. states (including Pennsylvania) and in a few states in northern Mexico. Black bears begin to emerge from hibernation in the spring months in Pennsylvania. The timing of emergence from hibernation can be earlier or later depending on location. After hibernation, there is a 2-3 week “walking hibernation” period where the bears’ metabolic processes adjust to normal summer activity. When normal activity resumes in the summer, they can be seen during dusk or dawn when they are most active, but also at other times throughout the day.

Summer temperatures can get pretty hot in Central PA and bears need to cool off just like any other animal. Black bears can become overheated in the open sun, and dark fur does not help with trying to stay cool. Black bears cool off in similar ways that dogs do, such as lying in the water, panting or resting in the shade with their undersides on the cooler shaded ground. Interesting, bears generally don’t drink very much water to stay hydrated – they get adequate fluid supplies from the berries they eat, as long as they are abundant enough.

Have you spotted any bears taking a dip in the water or lying in the shade? If you see one and can safely take a photo, upload it to the Eyes on Central PA Mission on Project Noah, where you can also see what others in our area are spotting. Your photo may be featured on this blog or in Chief Meteorologist Joe Murgo’s next on-air broadcast!

Learn more about Living with Pennsylvania Black Bears from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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