Breeding populations of black bears in North Carolina are restricted to the Mountain and Coastal regions. Population sizes and trends are estimated by data provided by bears killed by hunters, automobiles and other causes. The largest population of black bears in North Carolina is found in the Coastal region. This is also where the largest black bears are found. North Carolina holds the record for the heaviest bear ever officially weighed in the U.S. or Canada. This bear was from Craven County and weighed 880 pounds.
Black bears mate in June and July. The tiny embryo does not develop any further until late fall when it attaches to the wall of the uterus. In late January or early February one to five (normally two) cubs are born. The young bears are born while the mother is in hibernation.
Newborn cubs are very small; they are about 7.5 inches long and weigh only about 7 ounces. The female and her cubs emerge from their winter den from late March through early May. The cubs may weigh 5 to 12 pounds by this time. The young remain with their mother through the following winter.
Bears are omnivores. This means they eat a wide variety of plants and animals. In the spring they eat mostly grasses, plants and young leaves. In the summer and fall they eat mostly fruits and nuts. Very little of their diet is animal material. Their tongues and lips are made for grasping like our fingers and can easily strip berries from a bush.
Don't feed the bears! Bear behavior is unpredictable and they are very powerful animals. In the wild they prefer to avoid humans. Conflicts arise when they associate humans with an easy meal.